Afraid you might overeat at Christmas? Here’s a few tips to help you stay on track

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  • A Christmas dinner spread. At this time of year it can be hard to avoid the temptation of indulging in high calorie foods, but with a little willpower, and some of the tips we've listed, you should be able to stay on a healthy track.

    A Christmas dinner spread. At this time of year it can be hard to avoid the temptation of indulging in high calorie foods, but with a little willpower, and some of the tips we've listed, you should be able to stay on a healthy track.


Healthier cassava pie

Janet Burull’s healthier version of cassava pie.

Ingredients
2lbs skinless chicken thighs
2lbs skinless chicken breasts
3lbs grated cassava
6oz soft vegetable margarine like Flora or Bertolli. These spreads are not hydrogenated. DO NOT use ‘light’ margarines as they contain too much water.
1.5c sugar
16oz (2c) liquid egg substitute (like ‘Eggbeaters’) (equivalent to eight eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
tsp salt

Method
Simmer the chicken with a little thyme and a pinch of salt. Remove the cooked chicken from bones. Chill broth to allow the fat to come to the surface so that it can be removed. Squeeze cassava (a small amount at a time) in a clean dish towel or cheesecloth to thoroughly remove all of the juice. Crumble the dry cassava and remove any large pieces. Spray a deep, 9” pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cut a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom of the pan and spray again with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, cream the margarine and sugar together. Gradually add egg substitute followed by the cassava, vanilla, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Spread half of this mixture on the bottom of the pan. Add the cut up chicken. Spread remaining mixture on top and poke a hole in the middle of the pie. Bake at 163C (325F) degrees for one hour and then baste with several tablespoons of broth, pouring a little into the centre hole. Continue baking for another 1.5 to two hours. Cut into 20 pieces. Each 5oz piece provides about 220 calories, 7g Fat, 11g protein, 29g carbohydrate. Diabetic exchanges: Two starch; one meat.

Warning: Although this is lower in fat and sugar than the regular version, it still has fat and calories. Eat in moderation.

It should be no surprise that dreams of sugar plums figure heavily into the traditional story ‘The Night Before Christmas’.

Christmas isn’t just the season to be jolly, it is also the season to be greedy and gluttonous. If you are trying to watch what you eat and avoid sweets the Christmas season can be a nightmare.

At the annual Christmas parade “elves” shove candy into your hands. At the Christmas pantomime the actors throw candy to the audience. Candy canes are hung on the Christmas tree. There are mountains of cookies to be eaten. Christmas stockings are stuffed with humbug candy and fruit pastels. Traditional foods such as cassava and farine pie are so loaded with calories and cholesterol they should come with a warning label.

The average person gains 5lbs at Christmas. Some people can shake off the excess after the holidays with exercise or dieting; those who were overweight to begin with, or have health problems, often find it very difficult to recover from December. Overeaters’ Anonymous is a support group for people who are addicted to food. They follow a 12-step programme similar to the one at Alcoholics Anonymous. Members told The Royal Gazette how difficult it was to stick to a diet during the Christmas season.

“This time of year is particularly difficult for me as I like to bake,” said one member. “This year I have decided not to bake as it would be too hard to bake cookies or Christmas items and not eat them all. And I know that it is okay. I don’t have to feel guilt over it as this is what I need to do to keep myself healthy. I am so grateful for the 12-step programme of Overeaters’ Anonymous for helping me to have a healthy and balanced life.”

Another member said she had Christmases where she’d eaten everything in front of her and some where she’d had super-healthy meals that left her consumed by an intense sense of deprivation and resentment. She said thanks to OA this Christmas she felt a lot better about herself and her body.

Here are some tips to avoid overeating this Christmas:

1. Search the internet for healthy versions of the foods you like to eat at Christmas. Pinterest is a great source for recipe ideas. There is even a healthier version of cassava pie created by the late nutritionist Janet Burull. The Bermuda Diabetes Association has also just released a calendar of delicious healthy recipes.

2. Eat the veggies and low-fat cheese on the platters at Christmas parties. Be aware though that dips and sauces can be chock full of calories. Go easy on any cheese as it tends to be high in fat; aged cheeses are usually a little bit lower in fat. These include extra-sharp or sharp cheddar, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, and asiago. Many cheeses today are also available in a reduced-fat form.

3. You never know what your host is going to make, but you can take some control by bringing a dish that meets your health requirements.

4. Don’t go to a Christmas party on an empty stomach. Eat before you go, so that, in theory, you’ll spend less of the evening married to the spinach and artichoke dip.

5. Here’s a good one. Weigh yourself before you go. If you’re happy with your weight you’ll spend the next hour at the holiday event, not wanting to ruin the numbers; or if you’re unhappy, you’ll be in such a state of shock you won’t touch anything.

6. Be a good example. Don’t stuff your children and family with candy and unhealthy foods, no matter how much they resent you for it. Everyone needs to be a little healthier at Christmas. If there’s less unhealthy stuff in your refrigerator and cupboards, you’ll be less able to snack on it.

7. Incorporate activity into your holiday routine. Try to go for a walk or bike ride as a family and start a new Christmas tradition. Buy the children in your family toys that encourage movement, such as hula hoops or basketball hoops or a soccer ball, then go out and play with them and have fun.

Some resources if you can’t stop eating this season:

Overeaters’ Anonymous meets on Saturdays from 11am to noon and Wednesdays from 1pm to 2pm at the Wesley Methodist Church on Church Street. For further information e-mail oabermuda@hotmail.com or visit www.oa.org .

Contact the Bermuda Diabetes Association on 297-8427 or bda@northrock.bm .

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Published Dec 21, 2012 at 9:05 am (Updated Dec 21, 2012 at 9:05 am)

Afraid you might overeat at Christmas? Here’s a few tips to help you stay on track

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