Healthy alternatives for Christmas dinner

All Woman

Dear Donovan,

The new fitness programme that I started in January is going very well, and to date I have lost 60 pounds. I have also maintained healthy eating habits, but the guilty pleasures of Christmas are so tempting. Are there any healthy alternatives to the pork, ham, eggnog, Christmas cake and sweet treats that I can consider so as not to throw my efforts away?

I'm very happy that you have lost 60 pounds as a result of your healthy eating habits and fitness programme. I'm sure you are looking and feeling much better.

I must admit that I share your concern about the possible weight gain over Christmas. This season is definitely a time for social functions organised by your family or your office, which normally include high-calorie food and drink. In addition, the exercise programmes are normally derailed by all the festivities. If one is not careful, all of the extra food and drink will show up in the tightness of the clothes and the size of the gut.

It is also a time when hypertensives and diabetics could become a little careless with their diets, thus increasing the chance of becoming sick. People who are overweight should also be careful with their food intake, otherwise more weight will be added over the Christmas period. This equates to more potential health issues after Christmas.

I usually suggest that all my clients should take off a few pounds before Christmas. Doing this will allow you to eat a bit more without seeming to gain extra weight. This principle of taking off a few pounds in advance could also be done before you travel, celebrate your wedding anniversary, go on vacation, etc. Shedding a few pounds would definitely cushion the effect of eating a bit more than usual at this time.

In your situation, I hope you have reached your weight loss goal. In some cases, even after reaching your ideal weight it might still be wise to take off one or two more pounds so that the Christmas goodies will not affect your weight significantly.

Healthy alternatives

Instead of buying sorrel drink, why not make your own? This way you can control how much sugar is in it. You could also make an attempt to reduce sugar in your sorrel compared to previous years. This same principle could be used for your Christmas cakes and other drinks. In some cases a Christmas pudding can be made with fewer calories instead of a Christmas cake. Additionally, sweeten your Christmas cakes with fruits and sugar substitutes instead of sugar.

Using margarine instead of butter in your Christmas cake preparation might also be helpful in reducing the calories. Drinking water and coconut water along with sorrel instead of drinking plain sorrel could also help you maintain your weight. Making brown gungo rice and peas instead of using white rice could also be helpful. In addition, eating a light snack some time before Christmas dinner could help to reduce your appetite when the feasting begins.

Try to cut back your portions of food and drink during the Christmas season. If possible, be more active and get in some structured exercise. In addition, I would suggest that you do a detox programme after Christmas.

A merry Christmas and a prosperous new year to my readers, and to all Jamaicans!

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight, or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to




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