Christmas, Christmas foods, classic meals, weight loss, healthy eating

The number of Australians trying to lose weight is at a record high, and as a country we are spending an unbelievable $1 million a day on dieting. Despite the colossal amount of money we are putting into being healthy, research shows last year the nation gained a whopping 35 million kilos over the festive season.

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So how can such a weight conscious nation stack on this much weight over such a short period of time?

According to Sheila Zhou, expert scientist at USANA, leading producer of high quality nutritional supplements, many of us don’t realise how calorie laden our Christmas classics are. “Many of the traditional foods associated with Christmas are loaded with saturated fat, high-GI sugar and carbohydrates, which can make the festival period difficult to maintain a balanced diet. Luckily there are healthy alternatives, and supplements, that can help keep your health in check without sacrificing celebrations.”

Ms. Zhou reveals the absolute worst Christmas classics for your diet:

1. Pull the other leg.  A single Turkey leg has over 400 calories, which is more than a cheeseburger! Although the meat is a great source of iron, the skin is extremely fatty and is packed full of sodium, so even a small portion can quickly turn into a calorie filled option.

The good news though? Roast chicken is a delicious, and healthier, alternative. The same sized portion of chicken contains half the amount of calories, making it a simple substitute for any social festivity.

2. Say cheese. Everyone loves mash potato, but is it really worth 275 calories? Although the main ingredient in this classic side is a vegetable, it’s high GI levels and starch makes it a calorie dense option.

Luckily there is a delicious and easy to make alternative, cheesy cauliflower mash. At only 104 calories per serving it has the same consistency as mash potato, with less than half the calories.

3. Stuff it. Stuffing is a staple in many meats at Christmas, and many of us don’t even think about the extra energy we are consuming as a result, but we should. Just one serve of stuffing has a staggering 439 calories. When you consider the main ingredients are bread and butter, it’s not that surprising, but is it really worth 20% of the average person’s calorie intake?

Fear not, there is a simple alternative that won’t compromise on flavour. Just by swapping the bread for apple and raisins, and replacing the butter for oil, the counter comes down to 207 calories.

4. The calories are in the pudding. So you’ve made it through the entree and main meal without blowing your calorie intake, but beware of the dreaded dessert. Christmas pudding has a staggering 320 calories, in just two tablespoons! Made with a high level of preservatives, sugar and butter, this dessert is definitely one to be wary of.

Rather, pavlova with fruit and cream is a great alternative. This fresh Aussie favourite will hit the sweet spot, and with only 240 calories in an entire slice, it’s a healthier option and the fresh fruit is a great source of natural sweeteners and nutrients.

5. Stop sucking. Even snacking over the Christmas period can be a minefield. There is no doubt the ultimate Christmas classic is the candy cane, but at 60 calories a pop these sugary snacks quickly add up.

But giving up the candy canes doesn’t mean missing out on sugary festive treats. The perfect solution to watch your waistline is an advent calendar. With only 30 calories for two pieces of chocolate it not only has less calories, but also means you don’t need to miss out on sweets.