CAREFUL with those mince pies -- you could be putting away nearly 400 calories a go.
A survey by the Irish Independent has found that those little extras can pack a mean calorific punch.
With luxury mince pies on sale in every supermarket, we found a single one contains as much as 260 calories, and up to five teaspoons worth of sugar.
Add cream and you're pushing close to 400 calories -- and that's even if you stop at just the one.
Plum pudding is even worse on the calorie front, with a portion containing up to 11 spoons of sugar and 400 calories. And that's before you add the cream or brandy butter, which push the tally close to 500.
Safefood nutritionist Dr Aileen McGloin said one study in the UK indicated consumers typically ate a whopping 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone -- three times the recommended limit for a woman.
While plum pudding and mince pies had some nutritional value in the dried fruit used, this also meant they had a high sugar content, making them extremely calorific, with mince pies also containing a huge amount of fat in the pastry.
"With plum pudding, you could still enjoy it in a small portion or you could leave it to have as your tea rather than forcing it in after dinner," she said.
"People think a mince pie is barely anything, as they're quite small, but at least keep it to one rather than two," she said.
Low-fat custard only delivered 27 calories a serving, and full-fat custard had 53 calories -- making either of those a better choice than the 81 calories for brandy butter or 133 for cream, she said. Likewise, people often didn't realise when they tucked into a box of chocolates that every single one could be delivering 45 calories.
"If you have two instead of four, you'll save yourself 90 calories -- though of course, the danger is that many people will have far more than that," said Ms McGloin. Safefood urged consumers to watch their portion sizes at Christmas, and make a few healthier choices.
For example, a breadcrumb stuffing made with seasonal fruits and nuts would contain around 60 fewer calories than traditional sausage stuffing, while eating turkey without the skin will save you another 40 calories.
Or skipping the roast potatoes could save you as much 379 calories -- and you could opt for healthier mash made with low-fat milk instead of butter. Getting outside for a walk or to let the kids play is a great idea as a break from all the feasting.
But while exercise is crucial to balancing out overeating, there are limits to what it can do if you consume 6,000 calories, she said.
To work that off you'd need to run for more than 10 hours, do 34 hours of yoga or seven hours of hard cycling so best to avoid excessive eating in the first place.