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Fit 4 Life | 5 tips for a healthy Christmas dinner

Published:Wednesday | December 18, 2019 | 12:36 AMMarvin Gordon/Contributor
From ham to sorrel and fruitcake, the season is a minefield of parties and gatherings rife with unhealthy food choices waiting to sink whatever progress you have made in the gym this year.
From ham to sorrel and fruitcake, the season is a minefield of parties and gatherings rife with unhealthy food choices waiting to sink whatever progress you have made in the gym this year.

If there is one thing everyone loves about Christmas, it’s the food. Most of us are either busy planning the dinner or counting the many friends and relatives whose homes we intend to invade for a taste of the season.

From ham to sorrel and fruitcake, the season is a minefield of parties and gatherings rife with unhealthy food choices waiting to sink whatever progress you have made in the gym this year.

Fit 4 Life won’t tell you not to eat, instead, we will give those preparing food this holiday season a few tips for healthier Christmas cooking.

OPT FOR NATURAL INGREDIENTS

One of the less obvious ways to make meals healthier is to replace processed ingredients with natural ones where possible. Numerous studies have shown the negative effects of processed foods. Even the ones that seem harmless could be loaded with calories and chemicals we should avoid. For example, packaged sauces, while more convenient than making your own, may add hundreds of calories and unwanted chemicals to your recipe.

MIND THE OIL

Christmas for many of us means reliving childhood memories. And what better way to do so than to cook the foods we used to have as children. Many of which were prepared with generous amounts of oil or butter. Use less oil where possible to avoid adding large amounts of fat to your meals. Avoid frying foods and opt for cooking methods that don’t add calories to your food, such as baking or boiling. Research your recipes to find out if the amount of oil or butter used can be safely reduced.

EASY ON THE SUGAR

Cake, sorrel, eggnog ... sweets are a big part of Christmas food. But, if you aren’t aware by now, excess sugar consumption is bad for your health. You can reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases for yourself and others who will consume your food by cutting back on sugar. Reducing the amount of sugar you use in each recipe will go a long way in limiting sugar intake from your Christmas dinner.

MIND THE SALT

Yes, in addition to sugar, too much salt can also be harmful because it raises blood pressure. Reduce salt content where possible and avoid pairing high salt content foods.

BALANCE IS GOOD

Salads are not a holiday favourite. The focus of Christmas dinners is usually the meat and dessert. Help your guests eat more healthy meals this Christmas by providing at least one tasty vegetable and fruit component that won’t be ignored in favour of a second serving of ham.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email: marvin.gordon@physiqueandfunction.com; yourhealth@gleanerjm.com