Cleaning up your Christmas Dinner

Cleaning up your Christmas Dinner

The holiday season is upon us again and the parties, drinking, and indulgences are gearing up earlier than ever this year. December and Christmas are important because it acts as an anchor point in the year where we all get together with friends, family and loved ones. Yes, it’s expensive and very costly on the waistband and liver but on the whole I think it’s really important to celebrate the year good or bad, plan for the twelve months ahead and reconnect with those who are important to us.

Christmas and December can undoubtedly, however, be very damaging to our health with increased alcohol intake, parties, dinners out and that’s without the big day itself, it truly is a month of overindulgence. A study estimated that an average Brit can consume up to 7000 calories on Christmas day alone!

So while I think it’s important to enjoy the season and the many positives it brings to our lives, It’s also a good idea to keep your focus on the bigger picture and try to make sure January doesn’t come round with a lot of extra work to do.

Most people want to enjoy Christmas “full fat” so offering low-fat, low-calorie recipes and advice will just be ignored by the majority. This practical guide, however, should help you save some calories, be little more mindful and help you to make some practical, smarter choices.

Here is my practical guide to Cleaning up your Christmas Dinner.

1. Breakfast

Start your day with some quality protein like poached eggs on wholemeal toast with some wilted spinach. This is going to keep you feeling fuller throughout the day and reduce your tendency to snack, especially if your Christmas dinner later in the day say 3-4pm. This will help avoid starting the day with chocolate and riding the sugar rollercoaster until dinner time.

If you eat earlier then keep breakfast light with some natural yoghurt and fresh berries. Don’t go for a full English as this can be upward of 800 calories and when added to the alcohol, fizzy drinks and Christmas dinner itself is the reason you want explode by the time Doctor Who comes on.

2. Alcohol

If you are having a drink this Christmas then try to wait until your meal and avoid starting the day with an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol is a powerful appetite stimulant and will cause you to snack heavily through the day. This not only adds a lot of extra calories through the day but will lead you to pile your plate higher than the empire state at the dinner table.

Smarter alcohol choices include prosecco at just 80 calories, dry white wine which is lower in sugar or white spirits such as gin with a slim line tonic (60-100 calories). Remember the body cannot use any of these calories so drink responsibly. Finally, go expensive. I always encourage clients to buy slightly more expensive wine and enjoy it as a genuine treat to be savored. This, of course, shouldn’t be backed up by several cheaper bottles =).

3. Turkey

When carving up the bird opt for the white meat as this contains slightly lower saturated fat and therefore less calories. Turkey, on the whole, is a very healthy choice so while this is a small improvement its by no means time to ditch the turkey on health grounds.

4. Potato Overload

I am a big advocate of carbohydrates in the right context, depending on your training load and activity levels. However, Christmas dinner is not a day where two or three types of potato at you Christmas dinner are going to be essential to your getting through the Queens speech (the exact opposite is true).

Keep your portion sizes sensible and try to avoid creamy options like dauphinoise. Roasted new potatoes can be a nice alternative, or roasted sweet potato and butternut squash, it even makes a good mash. If your plate is 20% Turkey and 70% potato then its time to think again before you tuck in.

5. Vegetables

This is the one day a year I can guarantee all my clients will hit their five a day quota. If you’re not then I’m reaching out and giving you a virtual kick up the bum!

Max out the vegetables to fill out the plate and avoid overeating more calorific foods and desserts later on. Try to steam the veg where possible and avoid over boiling as this kills off a lot of nutrients. Be adventurous and try some new veg recipes, and if you have been doing meat free Monday’s then incorporate these new cooking skills into your Christmas.

Nudge, Nudge, vegetables taste great without butter too =)

6. Hibernation

Once you have eaten your meal it’s a great idea to go for a walk and help the process of digestion. This will burn a few calories, get you away from the chocolate hoards and mentally let you calm down from the stresses of the day. If you are going to consume anywhere near 7000 calories in a single day (not recommended) then a walk is the least your body deserves.

P.S a walk to the pub isn’t really what I’m getting at either…


So these are my six tips to clean up your Christmas Dinner in 2016. None of them mean you can’t have a lovely meal or enjoy yourself. If you look at the calories you save yourself across the day with these six tips then January is looking a whole lot brighter when the scales of doom show their ugly head again.

If you are taking some down time between Christmas and New Year then be sure to get more active and not glued to the TV. If you can do some exercise and make the most of the extra time to train, or just get out and walk a little bit more. You will feel better and more refreshed when returning to work in the New Year and it will help burn off some of the Christmas day’s indulgence, oh and the leftovers.

Happy Christmas

Andy Strong
Fundamentally FIT Ltd

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