Healthy Holidays with Freda Molamphy

Have your cake (and turkey and mince pies) and eat it with these expert tips from Spinneys nutritional expert, Freda Molamphy on how to enjoy your festive feasting while keeping to your health goals
Freda Molamphy, Spinneys Nutritionist
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Freda Molamphy, Spinneys Nutritionist
December 26, 2018

Don’t over-indulge, and look at the bigger picture.
“As Christmas is a festive time, a lot of the celebrations revolve around food – but it shouldn’t be a time of excess. Try to be mindful of having a reasonably balanced diet and return to any weight loss programme once the festivities are over.”

Enjoy the heavier foods – just do it in moderation, and choose wisely!
“No food is unhealthy per se, but certain foods need to be eaten in moderation. Try to avoid having too much of the following: stuffing, gravy and bread sauce, cream, flavoured butters, roasted potatoes. Instead,
focus on vegetables, roasted meats and poultry. Also don’t indulge in mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding for dessert! Choose one and really enjoy it.”

Know the healthiest options – and make sure to include some in the spread.
“If you’re choosing to serve a soup, why not choose a lighter option this year?
A gazpacho would be fantastic, or another chilled soup such as asparagus, pea or celeriac. Serve in small cups with a sprinkling of freshly chopped herbs. Ideal starters could include cooked shrimp or prawn salad with a fragrant and ripe melon, smoked salmon with low fat crème fraiche or a grilled halloumi salad. Roasted sweet potatoes also make a great lower GI alternative to traditional potatoes. Meanwhile, all roast poultry and meats are good, high-protein foods, as is fish. Just remember to avoid poultry skin. As for dessert, while there is no easy way around the indulgence, you can additionally offer something like a bowl of sliced berries macerated in a little sparkling grape or elderflower beverage.”

Keep a few tricks up your sleeve to use without affecting the social festivities when you’re enjoying shared meals with family and friends.
“If you will be having a large meal at lunchtime or dinner, then you don’t necessarily need a large breakfast. Ideally, just some beautiful smoked salmon perhaps with scrambled eggs and a delicious piece of seasonal fruit should do the trick. When you’re in group gatherings, eat from a smaller plate and don’t fill it – this will automatically keep portions small. If you are having a cheese board, have only your very favourite cheeses, in small amounts, with a water biscuit rather than bread. Don’t forget to eat slowly and
try to have a break between courses to allow the food to digest.”

Make a note of these healthy substitutions, food swaps, and cooking tips for lighter meals.
“Don’t add butter and salt to vegetables automatically. Offer them separately and allow guests to season to taste. Traditional Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips all make for great, high fibre, vitamin rich additions to you meal – try them roasted in a little olive oil or steamed. Skim as much of the fat as possible from your gravy – you can use a special fat separator to do this, or a handy trick is to drop some ice cubes into the gravy. The fat will automatically stick to the ice, and once you fish out the cubes, a lot of the fat will also be removed. Then all you have to do is re-heat the gravy before serving for a tasty lower fat alternative. Remove poultry skin before serving – lean turkey meat is very nutritious, but the skin is very high in fat. If you’re having meat, focus on the leaner cuts. An exotic mixed fruit platter makes a lovely alternative to very rich puddings and desserts – try it with a thick Greek yoghurt or fromage frais and sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar flavoured with ginger.”