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Have a Holly, Jolly, Nutritious Christmas.

(by Penelope Harris)

Deck the Halls!!!!!!!

Generally, Christmas is a time when we let our hair down and let our guards down when it goes to dieting. The many parties, social gatherings, family gatherings and other festive events make it difficult for us to control our eating and our calorie intake.

On our down days, in other words those days on which we have no social event, we definitely need to maximise our nutrition. If you are going out in the evening, when not maximise your nutrition during the day, by drinking lots of water, and eating raw fruits and vegetables.

1. Trim the fats. Go all out and deck the halls with boughs of holly, glitter, and lights, but when it comes to holiday food, accessorise with care. Trim excess fats off of meats to cut calories. Go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream — additions that don’t add much of the nutrients to meals, but can add plenty to your waistline. Trim calories wherever you can so you leave the party feeling satisfied, but not stuffed.

2. Prepare some pickled vegetables ahead of time. When you feel a bit puckish, you can snack on fresh fruit and pickles such as chow chow and dill pickles. Roasted meat also goes well with pickles.

3. Chew gum. Chewing sugarless gum helps, especially when you are hungry and don’t have something suitable to eat. It also works well when you’re cooking or when you’re trying not to dive into the buffet.

4. Avoid going out hungry. You may even end of eating things that you don’t love or feel are very healthy for you. So eat some soup or a salad and drink lots of water. Avoid waiting until you are hungry or thirsty to go to the buffet. Pace yourself, drink lots of water and then eat moderately to avoid hunger pangs.

5. Do not skip breakfast. Eat a hearty breakfast, beginning with water soon after rising. Eat a generous serving of fruit about one hour later. Eat a hearty normal breakfast about half an hour after the fruit.

6. Check it out. We Guyanese believe in trying everything, so when we leave the buffet table, our plates are loaded. Buffet is an invitation to eat all you can, and unless you carefully scrutinise it and make wise choices, you’re likely to overeat.

7. Add fun and games. Family get togethers don’t only have to be about food.Taking the focus off food and getting family and friends more active during holiday parties. Party games, movies, mini talent shows and concerts or even karaoke can help cut back on the overeating.

8. Cut the fat in the garlic pork and pepperpot. Trim all the visible fats off the meat before preparing. When the pepperpot is fully cooked, place it in the freezer and allow the fat to solidify at the top. Skim this fat off and reheat.

9. Use fruit or vegetable appetizers. A fresh fruit appetizer or crunchy salad greens are good for starters for your lunch or dinner.

10. Go for roasting and baking rather than frying and stewing. After roasting and baking, go for interesting fruit sauces, such as sorrel, mango, guava or passion fruit. These can simply by made by obtaining the juice or puree and adding some sugar ad spices. If the sauces need thickening, mix a spoonful of cornstarch (powdery white) with some water and add to the juice or puree and then bring to the boil again.

Black Cake is a must for Christmas but be sure to eat it all in small portions !

Penelope Harris is Insight’s resident food connoisseur and the Head of Carnegie School of Home Economics.

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