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Easy Christmas food swaps to avoid secret snacking weight gain

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
24 December 2012

Though the main meal makes the biggest contribution to our Christmas calorie intake on the big day, snacks, treats and an extra special breakfast add up to more than you’d expect.

But a few small changes can shave hundreds of calories off your total.

Nutritional consultant, Michael van Straten explains: “For years now I have been checking up on my patients by asking them to keep a diary during the holidays and write down everything they eat and drink.

“The terrifying conclusion is that people are chomping their way through more than 8,000 high fat, high sugar and high salt calories and the equivalent of more than two and a half blocks of fat and that’s just on Christmas Day!”

[Related: Top healthy Christmas superfoods]

You might not realise it but a handful of nuts here and there, a few crisp, some cocktail sized sausage rolls and the odd mince pie all add up and without thinking about it you could have consumed your day’s worth of calories before you even sit down for Christmas dinner.

To combat this, Michael suggests beginning with a healthy breakfast, rather than a bacon buttie. “Ditch the bacon and start the day with a ripe fresh mango, some pineapple and yoghurt. Both fruits contain digestive enzymes, good for the stomach.”

Later on, Michael recommends swapping the crisps for vegetable crudités with spicy dips, salted nuts for the fresh, unsalted varieties and add sparkling water to wine to create a spritzer, which will reduce the pressure on your liver, making it less sluggish towards the evening.

[Related: Health benefits of the Christmas dinner]

The Christmas feast will be laden with calories whatever you do, but cooking the vegetables separately from the turkey with just a drizzle of olive oil can reduce their fat and calorie content, and trading Christmas pudding for an exotic fruit salad will be much more helpful for your waistline.

And when it comes to the cheeseboard, opt for Brie or Camembert with a crisp English Cox apple, rather than the higher fat Stilton.

Finally, however much you feel like slumping in front of the Christmas telly…”Don’t do it!” says Michael. “Get yourself and the family out for a brisk 20 minute walk, regardless of the weather.”

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