Christmas market food mean mulled wine, mince pies and a Frankfurter or two, but how many calories does it all come to? We spoke to the nutritionist behind the healthy living app Lifesum, Frida Harju, for her top tips on how to keep track of our Christmas market cravings.
What are the most calorific drinks at Christmas markets?
The worst culprits are definitely alcoholic! In terms of calories, the worst offender is Eggnog – the combination of sugar, eggs, whipped cream and bourbon equals a massive 343 calories, as well as almost a day’s worth of recommended daily sugar intake. The Irish favourite Hot Whiskey is equally as unhealthy, with 36g of alcohol per small serving. Drink Cava, Prosecco or Champagne instead of mulled wine; they have the lowest calories and sugars.
How about food?
Stuffed potatoes are one of the worst, as the added cheese, butter and cream counterbalance the healthiness of the potato, and can come to 318 calories per potato. Adding vegetables instead of all the cheeses can make a big difference, with caramelised onions actually giving your immune system a boost. When it comes to sausages and burgers, cheeses, sauces and dressings will pile on the calories, with processed cheeses having as many as 100 calories per slice and buns adding 40% more fat than normal breads.
So what should we eat then?
The best option would be a veggie sausage, which, despite being high in sodium is very low calorie. If you do go for a frankfurter sausage, which has 3 times the calories, have mustard instead of mayo or ketchup and add vegetables. Alternatively, a plain burger without the bun is a great option. Loose the gherkin and have avocado, cucumber or lettuce instead. Although gherkins contain zinc and iron, high levels of salt counteract the benefits.
We’re on the 5:2 diet, what should we choose?
Christmas really is the time to indulge. You can still enjoy all the foods available on one of your non-fasting days, just go for smaller servings. Try and go for lots of vegetables and lean protein, like poultry or fish. Skip the fatty sauces and opt for a vegetarian sausage with mustard instead of mayonnaise. Regular exercise will also help.
How should we cut down on sugar and fat?
The worst offenders would be the cakes, doughnuts and cookies. Fruit cake contains plenty of butter and sugar to counterbalance all the fruit, coming to as much as 13 grams of fat. Gingerbread cookies have 16 grams of fat per 100 grams of cookie and candy canes are pure sugar with 11 grams per serving, despite being as little as 40 calories.
There must be something healthy though, right?
You might think cranberry sauce, but don’t be fooled! While cranberries have superfood status, packed with antioxidants, manufacturers will add a lot of sugar to make the sauce taste sweeter! Remember a caramel apple is coated in sugar and syrup too, containing 3 grams more than your recommended dose of sugar!
So what should we fill up on throughout the day to resist temptation?
Start the day with a healthy breakfast; eggs and spinach are a great option, or porridge with chia or flax seeds. Get lots of fibre and protein, chicken and vegetables like cabbage and eggplant are perfect for that. It is also a good idea to add spices and flavourings to your food, like cinnamon or vinegar, which can curb your hunger and leave you feeling fuller much longer. In terms of snacks, go for some nuts, as they are full of protein, fibre and fat, which will leave you feeling full and will speed up your metabolism.
Don’t know where to head to? These are the best Christmas markets all around the UK