What do dietitians eat for Christmas?

Christmas diet suggestions

Ever wondered what dietitians eat over the Christmas silly season? Do they have iron clad willpower to stick to their healthy diets? Or, are they just like the rest of us mere mortals who love to take any excuse to indulge?
We asked Accredited Practising Dietitian, Nicole Dynan, and research dietitian for CSIRO Food and Nutrition, Dr Jane Bowen, what Christmas food they'll be eating - plus their top tips on how we can eat, drink and still prevent the bloat during the festive period. 

Nicole, what does your Christmas feast look like?

I love Christmas. It's the perfect storm of incredible good food and amazing company in our household.

I start Christmas day with an early run to set my energy levels for the busy day ahead. I'm home in time for the kids and Christmas presents and then my husband heads to the fish market while I prepare the salads.

This year’s salads will include delicious green and fragrant ingredients including pomegranates, figs, green beans, watercress, fresh herbs and avocado to accompany our prawn and turkey fare.

We only choose two proteins so as to minimise waste and encourage the kids to try something new each year.

This also helps us to manage our intake on a day when it’s so easy to go overboard.

The free-range turkey, basted in brine flavoured with garlic, oranges, lemons and thyme overnight, will be stuffed with sourdough breadcrumbs, onion, bacon, prunes and chestnuts. This will bake while the table is set and drinks are chilled.

Desserts are my husband’s department. He loves to make a Christmas pudding using a traditional family recipe weeks in advance, along with his signature berry and red currant pavlova with double cream on the day!

Will you be indulging in anything in particular?

My mother makes a delectable tray of 'Rocky Road' every Christmas with beautiful dark chocolate, fresh roasted nuts, coconut and, of course, a rainbow of marshmallows. It is one thing I choose not to resist. To stop myself eating the tray, I 'sit and savour' every morsel of a small slice, which makes it incredibly tasty and satisfying. This helps me to stop at one!

What is your number one tip for beating the Christmas bloat?

My number one tip for beating the Christmas bloat this year is 'don't arrive starving'.  If you've skipped breakfast and are ravenous by the time Christmas lunch is served, chances are you are going to overeat as your brain tries in vain to catch up with your stomach. By that time, the damage will be done and the guilt will have set in.

Having a light breakfast that includes some protein and low GI carbs, such as Greek yoghurt and blueberries, can help take the edge off your hunger and help you moderate your intake when faced with the smorgasbord of Christmas delights.

Jane, what does your Christmas feast look like?

First and foremost I plan an array of colourful salads - it's a chance to get creative. I like to use herbs, nuts, seeds, spices, summer fruits and citrus dressings to give each salad that ‘wow’ factor.

My current favourite, which I’ll make this Christmas, combines grated zucchini and finely shredded green cabbage, tossed together with an abundance of roughly torn mint and dill, then finished with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, natural yoghurt and a hint of mustard. It’s crisp and fresh, which is perfect for a hot Christmas day.

Our Christmas feast wouldn't be complete without a roasted turkey. While we wait for the turkey to cook, we will start the meal with a Thai salad topped with some prawns or mini skewers of grilled fish.

To complete our meal, we used to be traditional with a Christmas pudding and mince pies. But now, with my little nephew's nut and dairy allergies to consider, we have a new tradition of pavlova topped with luscious summer berries and stone fruits. Keeps him safe and probably saves our waistlines a little bit, too!

Will you be indulging in anything in particular?

Given that my year is busily divided between my three beautiful children and work, I indulge in time. Time with my family and friends, time spent preparing beautiful, healthy food, and time to both relax and get active… Oh ok, and a traditional Italian Panetone for breakfast while the kids open their presents!  

What is your number one tip for beating the Christmas bloat?

It’s all about portion control - mince pies are great, but keep a tally on how many you eat! Try to curtail eating to mealtimes, and limit the amount of grazing you do in between.

Want more healthy Christmas recipe ideas? You might like to try the Total Wellbeing Diet’s Christmas menu:

Main: Roast pork stuffed with prunes and sage
Salad: Vietnamese style prawn and chicken salad
Dessert: Summer pudding 

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