Top 10 tips for healthy restaurant eating at Christmas

Eating out is usually on the agenda for most of us over the Christmas period, particularly at work parties and when out socialising with friends and family. However, it can be all too easy to forget your good intentions about healthy living and end up over- indulging on the wrong foods…and drinks.

Here are some tips to ensure it’s not a complete diet disaster…

1. Vegetable soups are a great starter option and can also help you get your recommended daily portions of veg – but try to avoid cream-based ones! Along with your soup, choose wholemeal bread rolls over white, as these provide extra fibre – which can help prevent constipation and may help to protect against bowel cancer.

2. There’s no reason not to choose turkey for your main course. Not only is turkey the traditional Christmas meat, it is also extremely high in protein. If you would rather leave the turkey until Christmas Day, however, then why not try a seasonal fish such as salmon?

3. Look at how a dish is cooked, and go for grilled or baked foods over fried or roasted. A grilled lean steak can be an excellent healthy choice, as it will provide you with a rich source of protein and iron.

4. Choose a fruit-based dessert, as this will contribute to your recommended portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Also, ask for single instead of double cream with your dessert. By doing this you could save a whopping 112 calories!

5. Christmas is the season to be jolly and most of us enjoy the odd tipple or three at this time of year! But if you are watching your weight, it is worth noting that alcohol contains a substantial seven calories per gram (carbohydrates and protein both contain around four calories per gram), and will also increase your appetite – so make sure you have your drink along with or after your meal to avoid over-indulging.

6. If you’re drinking spirits, remember to stick to diet mixers, this could save you hundreds of calories. You could also try having a tomato juice mixer, which will add to your recommended portions of fruit and veg!

7. If you’re trying to get slimmer, stick to one or two courses instead of the full three – and watch your portion size. A study in the US found that portion sizes in food outlets had grown by up to 700 per cent in the last 30 years!

8. Try not to add salt at the table, as most foods will already have been seasoned in the kitchen. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure – so aim to keep your salt intake to under 6g a day.

9. Always make sure you have a side order of vegetables – and more importantly, make sure you eat them! There are lots of great root vegetables in season at this time of year, so you should be spoilt for choice.

10. Finally, if you feel there is something indulgent on the menu that you simply cannot resist despite your best intentions, then don’t be too hard on yourself – it’s Christmas after all. Why not take away some of the guilt by ordering one portion with two spoons? Half the portion means half the fat, sugar and calories – so fancy sharing, anyone?