Don't turn into a Christmas pudding

Avoid piling on the pounds over the winter break by replacing your festive favourites with a selection of healthy substitutes, as suggested by Southampton nutritionist Mike Naylor
  • Swap cheese and crackers… For cottage cheese on rye bread
  • Swap pigs in blankets… for lean cuts of prime beef
  • Swap Christmas pudding… for Wheyhey ice cream
  • Swap a tin of chocolates… for mixed berries
  • Swap mince pies… for nuts

Swap cheese and crackers… For cottage cheese on rye bread

The sugar and saturated fats in this merry combo far outweigh the nutritional benefits. Binge on this fatty snack over Christmas and the New Year and you’ll return to the business end of the season with bigger paunch than Santa. Nibble on this and give your muscles a shot of protein to fuel them through the night, courtesy of the casein in the cheese. What’s more, the carbohydrates in the rye bread will crank up your metabolism and reduce the urge to dip into the cookie jar.

Swap pigs in blankets… For lean cuts of prime beef

These meaty treats might tantalise your taste buds, but under the bacon blanket lays a sack of low-grade meat that will only expand your waistline and not your passing range. Avoid temptation and reap the benefits in your game.Red meat has a bad rep, but a mean cut of prime beef is loaded with protein and essential micro-nutrients, such as iron. It’s one of the richest natural sources of creatine, which helps build muscle as well as boost strength.

Swap Christmas pudding… for Wheyhey ice cream

Pigging out on this sugar-fuelled desert will lead to ups and downs in energy levels and gains in fat. If you’re sitting on your backside watching re-runs of Only Fools and Horses over the Yuletide season expect to return to action looking like a pudding. Satisfy your sweet tooth and power your muscles with a bowl of Wheyhey ice cream. Never heard of it? This protein-packed dessert provides calcium, which supports muscle and bone health, helping you kick on until the season’s end. And it still tastes great.

Swap a tin of chocolates… for mixed berries

They may appear small and innocent enough, but every perfectly wrapped chocolate is ready to rage a war against your six-pack. With no nutritional value and stacks of calories, munching through an entire tin of these is a serious dieting own goal. If you want to waltz back on the pitch looking trim and feeling healthy, scoff some mixed berries whenever you’re feeling peckish between mealtimes. A handful of the little do-gooders will provide you with a dose of antioxidants to reduce the risk of illness during winter.
 

Swap mince pies… for nuts

You might get accused of being a Grinch for shunning grandma’s freshly-baked mince pies over Christmas, but your team-mates will thank you for it come matchday. The sugar overload will only add inches to your belly and not to your leap. Scoop up a handful of walnuts and give yourself a portion of omega 3. The essential fats will help you to conserve energy and shed fat. If you fancy something more seasonal have chestnuts, which are high in both fibre and minerals.


Have a healthy Christmas dinner...

Tuck into a festive feast with all the trimmings and none of the guilt

By just making a few changes, you can enjoy a slimmed-down version of your favourite family meal. The problem most people have is portion control.

The trick is to fill your plate with green vegetables first. Once you’ve laid out the sprouts, broccoli and spinach add your meat and potatoes.

Instead of sticking to turkey, make sure there’s beef on the table so you can feed your body a range of minerals, including iron.

Go easy on the stuffing and knock together a gravy that’s low in sugar, salt and saturated fat. The bad news is the roast potatoes have got to go.

Replace them with some new or grilled sweet potatoes to ensure your plate is full of energy-packed carbohydrates.

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