Monday 27 January 2020

Revealed: The calories in your Christmas treats - and the steps needed to walk them off

Mince pie needs 51 minutes of exercise to burn off

A portion of Christmas pudding could amount to 416 calories, requiring 81 minutes of exercise to burn off. Stock photo: Getty Images
A portion of Christmas pudding could amount to 416 calories, requiring 81 minutes of exercise to burn off. Stock photo: Getty Images
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

It's the current top concern of the weight conscious around Ireland.

How do you prevent yourself turning into a Christmas pudding with all the calorific festive indulgence ahead?

A new study in the 'Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health' provides some guidance.

It says that if we knew how much exercise was needed to burn off foods, it would act as an incentive to make healthier dietary choices.

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"Public health agencies may want to consider the possibility of including policies to promote it as a strategy that contributes to the prevention and treatment of obesity and related diseases," it added.

If widely applied, it might, on average, shave off up to 195 calories per person per day, they calculate, the research led by Loughborough University in the UK suggested.

Researchers believe if we knew how many minutes or miles of physical activity are needed to burn off the calories in a particular food or drink we might think twice about tucking in.

For example, eating 229 calories in a small bar of milk chocolate would require about 42 minutes of walking or 22 minutes of running to burn off.

If this was applied to Christmas it would require Olympian levels of exercise.

For example, a portion of Christmas pudding could amount to 416 calories, requiring 81 minutes of exercise to burn off.

A mince pie contains around 260 calories and 51 minutes of walking to balance out the indulgence.

According to Safefood, the All-Ireland body, exercise should be part of the Christmas list but there are also ways of reducing calories.

Starters

Leave fatty cheeses aside and try melon and other fresh fruits, a leafy salad, or smoked salmon.

Turkey

Turkey meat is naturally low in fat. Avoid the skin, though, as this is where most fat lies.

Ham

Leave the fat on your ham while it is roasting as it will keep the meat moist, but trim if off before serving. Honey roast ham is especially festive.

Gravy

Allow the juices to settle so you can skim off all fat before making it.

Stuffing

Instead of sausage stuffing, try a breadcrumb version.

Potatoes

Roast potatoes separately from the turkey to cut out the animal fat. Use a little vegetable oil rather than butter and leave the potatoes whole. The smaller they are, the more fat they will absorb.

Vegetables

Fill up on plenty of vegetables but avoid adding butter or rich sauces.

Pudding

Have it with custard made with low-fat milk rather than cream or brandy butter.

Alcohol

Always have a glass of water when you are drinking alcohol - cutting down by one glass of wine (125ml) will save you around 100 calories.

Portion sizes

Keep an eye on your portion sizes so you don't end up eating more than usual.

Counting the Christmas calories:

Three thick slices of turkey with skin — 194 calories.

Exercise needed: Walking for 38 minutes

Two balls of stuffing — 108 calories.

Exercise needed: Walking for 21 minutes

Two tablespoons of cranberry sauce — 86 calories.

Exercise needed: Walking for 17 minutes

Christmas pudding — 416 calories.

Exercise needed: Walking for 81 minutes

Single cream — 56 calories.

Exercise needed: Walking for 11 minutes

Christmas cake — 412 calories.

Exercise needed: Walking for 82 minutes

Mince pie — 260 calories.

Exercise needed : Walking for 51 minutes

Large glass of white wine — 228 calories.

Exercise needed: Walking for 45 minutes

Irish Independent

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