That most wonderful (or dreaded by some!) season of the year is coming. The Christmas and New Year holiday extravaganza is about to start. Traditionally this is when most people over-indulge on all kinds of food, but this doesn't have to be the case. But before I get to some handy tips, let's actually have a look at what traditional Christmas meals look like, and how we can maybe have our holiday specials, while still staying healthy.
Many of the English speaking countries have Turkey as the base of their traditional Christmas meal. On the 25th the roasted bird becomes a centrepiece for the family dinner accompanied by roast root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.). Other traditional side dishes include Brussels sprouts, pigs in blankets and the turkey is often served with stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. This is followed by desert of Christmas pudding, mince pies or trifle.
The usual versions of these recipes are heavily laden with butter and oil, but it doesn't have to be that way. You might need to skip the bacon, but with roasting bags you can prepare both the turkey and vegetables in a low fat way. Just be sure to add plenty of spices to keep your taste buds engaged.
This fish is a traditional Christmas meal in Poland, as well as Germany, and some other European countries. Usually fried, it's accompanied by a selection of dishes: mushroom or beetroot soup, sauerkraut, noodles & poppy seeds, herring, dumplings (pierogi), and others. The side dishes can vary quite a lot not just between countries but even depending on the local region.
The carp is and easy meal to adjust to the diet. You can either cook or steam the fish, or even fry it on a non-stick pan. Side dishes in this Christmas tradition are a bit trickier - some like the soups need little adjustments, others, like dumplings or noodles, would be a bit too high on carbs for the diet.
Most Christmas deserts unfortunately very much fall under the category of comfort food. You can always try some Dukan friendly deserts instead, and let your family have the other stuff. Or better yet focus on the non-food pleasures and stock up on Christmas crackers , and board games, party hats or dancing shoes. Rather than sit around eating deserts, be social, have a mini-party, even if it is at your own house.
It might be a bit late for this, but it's also worth noting that part of the problem are sweets or chocolates as gifts. Try to think outside the chocolate box (and encourage your family and friends to do the same) and avoid the easy gift of candy. Maybe a fancy tea or coffee would work equally well, and it is so much less fattening.
Now the advice above was for the good, strong willed dieters amongst us. The people with a supportive family, or those who are maybe staying at home and cooking for themselves. But what about all those salivating just at the thought of the once-a-year-desert? Well I come baring good news.
The truth is that guilt and stress can be a worst thing for your diet than that one mince pie. If you take a day-off from your diet for one day, the world will not end. Enjoy the Christmas meal and don't think too much about it. And the next day get a head start on all the New Year's dieting resolutions that most of us often commit to in January any ways.
One thing to note though is that enjoy does not mean eat till you are bursting. Try to stick to celebration meal rules - enjoy the food, savour the flavours, avoid having seconds.
And on that note I'd like to wish you all a wonderful holiday no matter if you are planning on being naughty or nice. Merry Christmas everyone and see you in the New Year!
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