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Welcome to the Health Defence Blog - a blog about health, wellness and a healthier you. Brought to you by the Health Defence team at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, you'll find up-to-date information on a range of topics from what's in your food to the latest advice on e-cigarettes!


Megan - Health Promotion Specialist

December 18, 2016

"Twas the month after Christmas and all through the house, nothing would fit me, not even a blouse!"

I don’t know about you, but I had my first Christmas mince pie way back in November! Christmas is no longer a day of celebrating but a whole month (if not more) of delicious indulgence.

But how can we still enjoy the festive period without overdoing it? Ditch the diet guilt and enjoy Christmas with our handy tips.

Quiz question: on average, how much weight do people gain over the Christmas period? Answer at the bottom of the page!

  • First things first – Christmas is a time for celebration, and much of that is around family, friends and food. So enjoy it. If you want to have a Christmas mince pie, do so, eat it slowly, savour every mouthful and don’t feel guilty. It’s the other 364 days of the year that really count (tip: avoid eating the whole packet of pies though!).
  • If you’re going to indulge – limit this to just 1 or 2 days over Christmas, not the whole week (or month). With so many treat on display, also consider why you are eating – are you hungry? Bored? Stressed? Eating because it’s there?
  • Start the way you mean to finish - that means a healthy breakfast. Include some fresh fruit, wholegrains (brown bread or wholegrain cereal) with low fat milk. Having breakfast also means you’re less likely to snack later in the day.
  • Fill up at least half of your plate with colourful vegetables first – vegetables contain lots of fibre which helps to fill you up.
  • Small changes in the way we cook food can also make a big difference. For example: 
    • Prick the turkey skin before cooking to let the fat drain off and remove the skin before eating.
    • Cut potatoes into larger pieces for roasting as they have less surface area for absorbing fat! Par-boil and then brush with a small amount of vegetable oil and bake in the oven.
    • Choose fruit or chestnut-based stuffing over meat stuffing to reduce the fat content (or try half and half).
    • Try making your own gravy instead of using cubes or granules which tend to be high in salt.
    • Serve Christmas pudding with natural yoghurt or custard (made with low fat milk).
  • Cut the calories in your drinks by choosing a diet mixer or soda water. Fill your white wine glass with ice first, or choose a lower alcohol beer. Keep in mind that alcohol per gram has almost the same amount of energy as fat! (tip: have alcohol after food – alcohol is an appetite stimulant, so drinking before your Christmas meal means you are likely to eat more).
  • Don't forget to keep moving, wrap up warmly and enjoy a brisk walk outside or dance away those calories inside … jingle bell rock!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from the CHSS Health Promotion team!

Quiz answer: People gain on average 5lbs (2kg) over the four-week Christmas period – that’s an increase of about 500 calories per day! It adds up more quickly than you think… a few handfuls of crisps + a mini sausage roll + a couple of glasses of wine equals approximately 500 calories. Be mindful of all of the little things that add up.

***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.

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