Thursday 18 July 2019

Have yourself a healthier Christmas dinner...

Karl Henry has some simple advice to help you avoid piling on the pounds over the festive season

Lorraine Keane, Brent Pope and Celia Holman Lee at the Sunday Independent ‘Living’ Christmas party
Lorraine Keane, Brent Pope and Celia Holman Lee at the Sunday Independent ‘Living’ Christmas party
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

We are about to eat the biggest, yummiest and most calorific meal of the year. But don't worry, I don't intend to make you feel bad. Life is for living. Real health is about balance and enjoying everything in moderation.

So here are some simple tips I give to my clients, based on my experience over the years. How does that sound? Not too scary for Christmas Eve, I hope.

We all know that post-Christmas dinner feeling. You fall on to the couch, open the belt buckle and within 60 seconds you are fast asleep in a food coma. This happens because the body is so full, it shuts down so that the stomach can focus on trying to deal with the amount of food.

It's good to know how many calories you are looking at before you decide what to tuck into.

The average person consumes up to 6,000 calories across the day and puts on four pounds between Christmas Day and the New Year. Here's what's in your average Christmas dinner: Four slices of turkey: 400cals. Three roast potatoes: 600kcals. Five pigs-in-blankets: 500cals. Gravy: 90cals. Mound of stuffing: 300cals. Buttered sprouts: 100cals. Buttered carrots: 100cals. Bread sauce: 90cals.

Remember, all calories are not created equal. Extra turkey, for example, won't do too much harm, but a second portion of trifle with the trimmings? That's a different matter.


Get exercise into your Christmas morning. It will keep you full of endorphins for the day, you will feel better and eat better - and the better, less stuffy mood will make it easier to get on with the family.

A good breakfast is crucial - eggs or porridge and you're on to a winner.

As for the big event, first load your plate with meat or nut roast and then work around it. Pile on vegetables - get plenty of colour on your plate, the more the merrier. Keep gravy on the side and add as you need. Don't pour over the whole dinner.

Put your knife and fork down between each mouthful and chew your food while enjoying the company of people around you. This will give your stomach as much help as possible with digestion.

Avoid the snacks before your dinner and after. Chocolate Mikados are my nemesis. I will have one or two, but after my 13km run. So limit munching on junk.

Have seconds if you want: just make sure it's protein and vegetables.

Then take a stroll after dinner. Runners on, jacket on and out for some fresh air. Great for you and your digestion after the big feed.

Remember: balance.

Be drink aware

Always have a glass of water and a glass of wine together at the table and drink between the two.

Don't start too early: Skip the champagne breakfast and hold off until dinner for your first drink. It will make a huge difference to your overall calorie intake if you are not drinking all day.

Have at least one large glass of water before bed to lessen the effects the next morning.

What does it take to burn off 6,000 calories?

* Two marathons

* 9 hours in the gym

* 100 miles on the bike

* 1 mince pie = 1.5-mile run

* 1 trifle = 3.5-mile run

* 1 bottle of wine = 6-mile run

* 1 Chocolate Mikado = 1-mile run

Calories in alcohol

* Wine: 150-170 calories per glass

* Beer or cider: 200-230 calories per pint. Equal to a big slice of apple pie

* Spirits: 80-100 calories per measure. Equal to a small bag of crisps

* Champagne has around 90 calories a glass - the equivalent of a chocolate digestive biscuit.

Sunday Independent

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