How to avoid eating too much on Christmas Day

by Jennifer Bowden / 24 December, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - How to avoid eating too much on Christmas

Photo/Getty Images

Wondering how to avoid calorie traps at Christmas? Menu planning and plenty of veges are the answer.

Christmas Day is done and dusted in 24 hours, so by all means let’s enjoy the celebration. But thanks to pre-Christmas parties and post-Christmas supermarket promotions, the festive season tends to run and run. The effects of foodie presents and piles of leftovers can take a toll on the body.

So rather than following the Christmas marketing hype, create your own healthy celebration – starting with wholesome foodie presents, a survival plan for the supermarket and some simple tips for Christmas menu planning.

Enter any supermarket or department store and you’ll be confronted by displays of boxed chocolates, tins of cookies and other high-sugar goods. Add to that end-of-aisle displays offering two-for-one packs of fruit mince pies, deals on wine and soft drinks and checkout counters laden with more sugary items.

“Impulse marketing” is the name given to placement of high-energy occasional foods in prominent places within supermarkets, petrol stations and department stores. The goal is simple – to get you to make a spur-of-the-moment, emotion-driven purchase triggered by seeing the product, notes a New England Journal of Medicine article.

Product placement within stores is the most important determinant of sales, because the simple fact is the longer you look at a display, the more likely you are to buy something from it. It’s almost impossible to avoid end-of-aisle displays and, unsurprisingly, these goods typically account for about 30% of all supermarket sales, the journal says. Which explains why manufacturers are willing to pay supermarkets a fee to stack their products in those positions.

To thwart festive-season impulse marketing, plan your purchases. The simple way is to make – and stick to – a shopping list.

The less time you spend looking at impulse displays, the less likely you are to buy something on the spur of the moment. So if you’re serious about avoiding unwanted sugary goods, quickly pass the displays by and get on with your real shopping.

When it comes to gift ideas, think outside the chocolate box. Consider such things as cookbooks or magazine subscriptions, instead.

Jamie Oliver.

Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food, for example, is packed with simple meal ideas that encourage the use of real ingredients to create delicious home-made meals. Magazines such as Recipes+ and the NZ Listener are other sources of healthy eating tips.

Kitchen gadgets can also make good gifts. A vegetable spiraliser, for instance, is a simple tool for turning vegetables such as zucchini, carrots and kumara into strands for use in salads or for cooking as alternatives to noodles or spaghetti. A hand-turned spiraliser will set you back about $30, and an electric model with all the bells and whistles will go for about $100.

Gourmet teas and coffees are attractively packaged sugar-free options that come in a range of flavours and go well with gifts of tea cups and pots and coffee cups and makers.

The holidays are also barbecue season and as well as the usual implements, reusable non-stick Teflon barbecue mats, which make it easier to cook veges and eggs, are a novel gift idea. Other ideas for barbecuers are gourmet items such as vinaigrette salad dressings, New Zealand olive oil and relishes and chutneys.

Planning is the key to creating a healthy Christmas meal. Decide on the menu and let that guide you at the supermarket.

Make seasonal vegetable dishes the stars of your menu, starting with nibbles. A platter of brightly coloured vegetables – sticks of asparagus, green beans, carrots and chopped capsicum and cucumber, along with sweet baby tomatoes, sugar snap peas, raw broccoli and cauliflower – makes a good starter. Crunchy, raw vegetables go well with dips such as yogurt-based tzatziki or flavoured hummus.

Vegetables are a good basis for the main meal, too, whether that’s a platter of steamed green beans and asparagus, a leafy green salad, or stuffed mushrooms or capsicums. There are endless healthy and delicious options.

If you’re going down the traditional roast route, do potatoes and kumara with their skins on to get the benefit of the fibre and nutrients that would otherwise be lost.

Serving from a side table rather than the dining table will slow down return trips for seconds. If you’re having a buffet-style meal, take a leaf out of the marketers’ book and arrange the food platters so people load up with non-starchy vegetables first, before helping themselves to meat and root vegetables. That way people are encouraged to eat more of what’s best for them.

Make jugs of still and sparkling water available on the dining and buffet tables so there’s an option other than calorie-filled alcohol and soft drinks. If wine, juice and soft drinks are on a separate table, the extra walk will slow everyone’s intake.

The last course needn’t be a sugar hit, either. Seasonal fruit can form the basis of desserts such as fruit salads, roasted and barbecued fruit and fruit-topped pavlovas. Berries and stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots make summer desserts both a delicious and healthy option.

With all that goodness tucked away, have a Merry Christmas and healthy New Year.

This article was first published in the December 23, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Richard Prebble: Jacinda Ardern will face the tyranny of events
86009 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Politics

Richard Prebble: Jacinda Ardern will face the tyra…

by Richard Prebble

I predicted Bill English would lose the election and the winner would be Winston Peters. But no forecaster, including the PM, predicted her pregnancy.

Read more
Aokigahara: More than just the ‘suicide forest’
85966 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z World

Aokigahara: More than just the ‘suicide forest’

by Justin Bennett

It's known as a 'suicide forest', but Justin Bennett found Aokigahara's quiet beauty outweighed its infamous reputation.

Read more
Truth and Lye: New perspectives on the brilliance of Len Lye
85816 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Arts

Truth and Lye: New perspectives on the brilliance …

by Sally Blundell

New essays on New Zealand-born US artist Len Lye elevate him to the status of Australasia’s most notable 20th-century artist.

Read more
Brain activity may hold the secret to helping infertile couples
86046 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Health

Brain activity may hold the secret to helping infe…

by Nicky Pellegrino

For about a third of infertility cases in New Zealand, there is no obvious reason why seemingly fertile couples struggle to conceive.

Read more
Farewells on the Auckland wharves, captured by photographer John Rykenberg
85964 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Farewells on the Auckland wharves, captured by pho…

by Frances Walsh

More than one million images from Rykenberg Photography, taken around Auckland, are now in the Auckland Libraries Collection. But who are the people?

Read more
'Termite hell' for Golden Bay man after he woke covered in insects
86027 2018-01-18 11:59:55Z Environment

'Termite hell' for Golden Bay man after he woke co…

by Hamish Cardwell

A Golden Bay man spending his first night in his new house says he woke to find his bed, walls and floor covered in hundreds of creepy crawlies.

Read more
Ten ‘stealth microplastics’ to avoid if you want to save the oceans
86015 2018-01-18 11:18:49Z Environment

Ten ‘stealth microplastics’ to avoid if you want t…

by Sharon George and Deirdre McKay

There's a growing movement to stop the amount of wasteful plastic that goes into our oceans, but what about the tiny bits we can hardly see?

Read more
It's time to chlorinate New Zealand's drinking water
86001 2018-01-18 09:41:15Z Social issues

It's time to chlorinate New Zealand's drinking wat…

by The Listener

The inconvenience to chlorine refuseniks is tiny compared with the risk of more suffering and tragedy from another Havelock North-style contamination.

Read more