Enjoy Christmas day the Nutracheck way

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 01 Dec, 2021

Most of us love the Christmas period. It's a time to celebrate with friends and family and as we all know – it's a time to eat! You may have heard some reports that we Brits can consume around 3 times as many calories on Christmas day than a 'normal day' (that's around 6,000 calories for women and 7,500 calories for men!). So we decided to put this theory to the test.

Not so merry findings

We created a typical 'no holds barred' Christmas Day menu and calculated the total calories and fat using the Nutracheck Food Diary. The results were quite staggering and confirmed other reports – the food and drink for the day totalled 6,000 calories and a whopping 225g fat! Perhaps the most disturbing part was that the food and drink, although excessive for any ordinary day, didn't look unrealistic (we've cast a few eyes over this menu and all of us agreed we are capable of consuming this much on Christmas Day).

Making healthier choices

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a little indulgence. However, there are still many of us willing to make a few sacrifices for the sake of our waistline. With this in mind we decided to do a comparison of three different Christmas Day menus – Christmas Day "healthy rebalance", Christmas Day "reining it in" and Christmas Day "going overboard". Check out the menus below:

2000 kcal Christmas

Healthy Rebalance

Kcals 2,133
Fat 59.3g
Sat fat 20g
Carbs 220g
Sugar 110g
Fibre 24.4g
Protein 112.9g
Salt 5.5g

Breakfast

  • Half a pack of smoked salmon
  • 1 egg scrambled on 1 slice of wholemeal toast with a thin spread of margarine.
  • Small glass of orange juice.
  • Tea/coffee.

Mid-Morning Snack

  • Mini mince pie.
  • Glass of champagne.

Christmas Dinner

  • Turkey dinner with all the trimmings – Medium portion of roast turkey, 1 roast potato, 1 roast parsnip, 1 yorkshire pudding, 1 cocktail sausage, large serving of veg, gravy.
  • Glass of champagne.

Pudding

  • Small serving of Christmas pudding.
  • 2 tbsp light cream.
  • Tea/coffee.

Evening Snack

  • Leftovers – Small portion of roast turkey, 2 tbsp low fat potato salad, large side salad, 1 slice wholemeal bread.
  • White wine spritzer.
  • 2 chocolates.
3000 kcal Christmas

Reining it in

Kcals 3,020
Fat 83.5g
Sat fat 28.4g
Carbs 338g
Sugar 132.8g
Fibre 27.5g
Protein 118.9g
Salt 8.9g

Breakfast

  • Bacon sandwich - 2 slices bread, 2 grilled bacon medallions, thin spread of low fat spread, ketchup.
  • Glass of bucks fizz.
  • Tea/coffee.

Mid-Morning Snack

  • 3 cocktail blinis with smoked salmon and low fat cream cheese.
  • White wine spritzer.

Christmas Dinner

  • Small serving of broccoli and stilton soup to start.
  • Turkey dinner with all the trimmings - medium portion of roast turkey, 1 stuffing ball, 2 roast potato, 2 roast parsnip, 1 yorkshire pudding, 2 cocktail sausage wrapped in bacon, large serving of veg, gravy and cranberry sauce.
  • White wine spritzer.

Pudding

  • Small serving of Christmas pudding.
  • 3 tbsp low fat custard.
  • Tea/coffee.

Evening Snack

  • Turkey and stuffing sandwich - 2 slices of bread, 1 medium slice of turkey, 1 stuffing ball, tsp cranberry sauce.
  • Handful of hand cooked crisps.
  • 3 chocolates.
  • Double baileys.
  • White wine spritzer.
6000 kcal Christmas

Going overboard

Kcals 6,009
Fat 232.2g
Sat fat 81.2g
Carbs 602.8g
Sugar 295.9g
Fibre 45.6g
Protein 157.6g
Salt 10.9g

Breakfast

  • Bacon sandwich - 2 slices bread, 2 grilled bacon rashers, low fat spread, ketchup.
  • Glass of bucks fizz.
  • Tea/coffee.

Mid-Morning Snack

  • Handful of nuts.
  • Mince pie.
  • 5 chocolates.
  • Large glass of wine.

Christmas Dinner

  • Prawn cocktail to start.
  • Turkey dinner with all the trimmings - medium portion of roast turkey, 1 large stuffing ball, 4 roast potato, 3 roast parsnip, 2 yorkshire pudding, 3 cocktail sausage wrapped in bacon, large serving of veg, gravy and cranberry sauce.
  • 2 large glasses of wine.

Pudding

  • Large serving of Christmas pudding.
  • 4 heaped tbsp luxury custard.
  • Double Baileys.
  • Tea/coffee.

Evening Snack

  • Slice of Christmas cake.
  • 4 crackers with 40g stilton.
  • 5 chocolates.
  • Handful of nuts.
  • Double baileys.
  • Large glass of wine.
  • Large glass of port.

Christmas Day for less

We discovered that just by making a few clever swaps and showing a little restraint, you can save 2,900 calories and 135g fat, compared to the 'no holds barred' Christmas Day. Alternatively, if you have the strength to be a saint over the festive period and do Christmas the healthy way, you could save a massive 4,000 calories and 165g fat! What's more, you still get to eat chocolate, a mince pie, Christmas pudding and Champagne. A pretty appealing option, we say!

Ultimately our Christmas Day comparisons show that it's perfectly possible to enjoy some tasty treats at Christmas without going completely over the top. So if you're wondering if you will be able to survive the festive period without gaining half a stone, rest assured the answer is yes! You can do it – it's just about balance!

Top 5 tips for a healthier Christmas

Christmas-walk

Keep active

Try and offset some of the Christmas eating with a bit more physical activity. Christmas is the perfect time to jump on the Wii or dance mat and have some fun with the kids. Or why not go for a nice long walk with the family before dinner – a snowball fight wouldn't go amiss either!

Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks

Alcoholic drinks, as we know, are generally high in calories, plus alcohol can stimulate appetite. So try your best to limit your intake by having one alcoholic drink followed by one soft drink.

Hide the chocolate tin

We're all guilty of it, you see the chocolates in the lovely big tin and it's impossible not to dip in every time you pass by. So help yourself by keeping them in a place where you don't have to look at them all day. Out of sight really can be out of mind!

Fill your dinner plate with vegetables first

Put your veggies on your plate before your meat and potatoes. With less room you'll be less inclined to have that extra roastie or Yorkshire pudding.

Have fun!

It is Christmas after all and this approach is all about balance. If you do decide to let loose a little, just make some adjustments over the following days and you'll be right on track.

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.