CHRISTMAS – The truth about your Christmas lunch: Where are the nutrients, what are the heavy-hitting calorie counts, carbs and fibre. What could you happily do without or swap for something just a little more beneficial. Mind you, it’s only one day a year…

You are what you eat – the truth about your Christmas lunch
I love Christmas and no matter how vulnerable I think I might be to unwanted kilos, clogged arteries and that awful feeling of being overstuffed, Christmas Day (and yes, certain days leading up to it) is exempt from my usual rules on healthy-consumption. But to what end? Let’s do a little research.

The Morning Bubbles
If like me you routinely start your Christmas morning with a bucks fizz, that might be a good place to begin. First of all let’s establish a key confusion in this realm – a bucks fizz is two parts champagne, one part orange juice, while a mimosa is a 50:50 mix of the two. With that in mind, one cup of fresh orange juice is 112 calories, 26 grams of carbohydrates (21 g sugar). It’s surprising then that, in comparison, a flute of Champagne clocks in at 121 calories and 3.8g of carbs (1.4g sugar). While there’s 12 per cent alcohol in Champagne, that half cup of OJ brings on your entire daily allowance of vitamin C. The perfect combination of naughty and nice?

The Big Bird
Turkey isn’t a favourite for many among the poultry genre, but I love it, both for festive, taste and health reasons. Turkey has fewer calories and moderately more protein than chicken, although chicken breast has the highest protein count across the two. Turkey has less cholesterol, less sodium and more iron. Baking and grilling are certainly healthier options when compared to frying. Removing turkey skin will help reduce the fat content. 

Two thick (of course) slices of turkey contain 117 calories, a lush 24g of protein, only 2g of fat, zero carbs (whoop!) plus lashings of hot vitamin B.

Some opt for beef on Christmas Day, which generally has more fat, although lean cuts from the shoulder, flank or lean ground beef will mitigate this.

The Trimmings
No surprise that roast potatoes snap your carb limit for the day. One cup (that’s 127g, nowhere near enough for my lunch) rack up 180 calories, 8.6 g of fat and 23g of carbs. But what about the other little Christmassy treats that help to bed in your turkey? A cup of turkey gravy almost triples the calorie count you’ve established with your potatoes at 238g per cup and adds 50 per cent to the carb count with another 12g. Cranberry sauce isn’t exactly packed with good news. A cup (277g, which even for me would be too much), is 112g of carbs, of which 88g is sugar. Even a cup only provides you with 5 percent of your daily vitamin C requirements, so let’s just celebrate the taste and move on shall we?

Just desserts
It’s only once a year (isn’t it?), but you still may not want to read on. 

A quarter of a typical supermarket Christmas Pudding (100g) pumps in 352 calories, 63g carbs, 9g of fat and not much of anything that would be considered good (3g of protein). If you fancy a dollop of brandy butter, for every 10g there’s 58 calories, 4.5g of fat (of which 2.7g is saturated) 4g carbs (of which 3.7g is sugar) and well, 0.03g of protein. 

So, not great. But if we limit ourselves to one of either pudding, cake or mince pies (really?), from the nutrition point of view, what’s our best option?

Well, one mince pie is about 54g or half the size of what we considered for the pudding. Surely that means you could have two – and if you did, you’d be scoffing 434 calories, 64.4g carbs and 8.5g of fat which, all told, is pretty similar to your Christmas pudding (without the brandy butter).

If we stay with 100 g for Christmas cake (and that’s hefty), it’s 365 calories, 67g carbs and 8g of fat. So again, a similar outcome, meaning you could whip up a portion-controlled medley of all three if you’re entertaining, leaving the brandy butter on the side as an optional extra. Or not.

Your furry friends
While you’re deliberating (and let’s face it, caving in to) your Christmas Day excesses, don’t let your profligacy extend to you pets. If you have a puppy baying to be a part of your Christmas feast, please be aware that you can’t just pass down all that rich food to your furry loved ones. Chocolate is an absolute no-no for dogs as certain ingredients just can’t be metabolised. If your dog eats chocolate, you should monitor them closely and seek veterinary attention if they show any symptoms, or if they are very young, pregnant or have other health concerns.

Similarly, although the ham, turkey and beef on your table may seem good fodder for your greedy pups, just a little bit of salt, might lead to vomiting, an upset stomach and dehydration. In most cases, this is not fatal. Make sure your dog has lots of water on hand to get them back on track but the best thing to do is keep human food to humans. And don’t give your dog cooked bones as chewing them into small pieces can be lethal in terms of digesting the sharper shards, causing internal bleeding, choking hazards and other blockages.

Have a very merry Christmas everyone, from all of us at The Gym Pod. Nobody ever said healthy eating should be without the odd indulgence, but do take care of your system. Over eating and excessive drinking can lead to consequences that nobody should have to suffer over the holidays or any other time of the year. 

See you bright and early on Boxing Day with the new workout gear you unwrapped on Christmas morning, all ready for a test drive.
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