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How to have a healthy Christmas

Christmas only happens once a year and the seasonal festivities provide a welcome dose of magic in the depths of mid-winter.

Sharing a feast with friends or family is a big part of what makes Christmas special, but overindulging can take its toll on your wellbeing.  Here are a few healthy choices you can make over the holidays to keep you feeling your best.

1. Eat a normal sized meal

Christmas dinner with all the trimmings is a pretty healthy meal, but because there are so many different things to eat we can end up overloading our plates. So avoid the after-dinner slump by having a little of everything, while keeping the amount of food on your plate the same as an everyday meal.

2. Keep food safety in mind

Cooking a large bird brings some extra food safety challenges at Christmas. To make sure you don’t end up with food poisoning, follow our turkey cooking advice and wash your hands regularly.

3. Don’t eat the turkey skin

The skin on turkey or goose is where most of the fat is so removing the skin before serving is a good idea. Before cooking, prick the skin to allow the fat to run out and cook the turkey on a roasting pan rack so it is not sitting in fat all the time.

4. Use a chestnut or fruit-based stuffing

Replace sausage meat stuffing with a healthier chestnut or fruit-based version. It's best to cook stuffing outside the turkey.

5. Bigger is better when it comes to roasties

Cut your potatoes bigger for roasting. Larger ones absorb less fat during roasting as they have a smaller combined surface area than the same amount of potato cut into smaller pieces. This also applies to parsnips. Parboil the potatoes, brush them with some olive oil and then finish off in the oven.   

6. Use skimmed milk for sauces and custard

Make bread sauce with skimmed milk. Add a clove of garlic to the milk for extra flavour. You can also make custard with skimmed milk to serve with Christmas pudding instead of brandy butter or double cream.

7. Skim the fat off turkey juices before making gravy

To make low-fat gravy, pour the turkey juices into a jug and wait for the fat to rise to the surface. Carefully pour or spoon off the fat before using the juices to make gravy.

8. Make the most of vegetables

Serve a variety of vegetables with the main meal and use chopped fresh herbs or lemon zest to add flavour, rather than butter.

9. Stay active

Try to keep active over Christmas. Family walks can be fun and do wonders for your mood and energy levels.

10. Mind those with food allergies

If you’re cooking for others this year, remember to be mindful of food sensitivities, food intolerances and food allergies

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