I have lost around 8kg in the last 6 months through cutting down on jun
k food and exercising more. I don’t want to force low-fat foods on the rest of the family, but how will I resist temptation during the holidays?
If you have spent the last six months educating yourself about healthy eating, there is no reason for it to go out of the window now. Aim to maintain your current weight, but not lose more, over Christmas. Spend some time thinking about how you can fit Christmas meals into your meal plan and exercise regime, paying particular attention to portion sizes.
Do include lower calorie recipes on the Christmas table – but don’t give in to the notion of “fewer calories = no taste.”Good choices include smoked salmon or seafood (without the bread and butter) to start, roast turkey without skin rather than roast duck or goose with skin, mashed sweet potatoes without butter instead of roast potatoes, steamed Brussels sprouts with a teaspoon of butter and a little nutmeg instead of lashings of cream and bacon, and braised red cabbage instead of cauliflower with cheese.
Include activities that involve physical exercise in your Christmas schedule, like ice skating on Houhai Lake, a family cycle ride, or a night at Salsa Caribe with your girlfriends.
Finally, reward yourself for your fantastic previous weight loss with a slim-fitting Christmas outfit – this will remind you not to overeat at meals and help keep you feeling positive and motivated about your success.
Most importantly, avoid an all-or-nothing attitude. Eating three cookies does not mean you may as well finish the pack.
Can you please settle an ongoing debate: What exactly is British mincemeat, and is it vegetarian?
In the UK we have both minced meat and mincemeat. Minced meat (confusingly, also called ‘mince’) is used in Bolognese sauce, meat balls and burgers, goes by the name of ‘ground meat’ in the US, and is not vegetarian at all.
Mincemeat is used to fill pastry cases to make sweet mince pies and is eaten in vast quantities in many a British household at Christmas. It is a concoction of dried fruit (such as raisins, currants, apples), sugar, spices and a little brandy. Traditionally it was made with small amounts of meat such as venison or beef, but this has been replaced by animal lard or vegetable shortening. As the pies bake, the lard melts into the fruit, creating an overtly rich taste and velvety texture. If animal lard is used, then it’s not vegetarian. In Beijing, I’ve seen a few jars of imported mincemeat on sale at Jenny Lou’s, so if you do buy it, check the labels to see whether or not it is vegetarian.
It is perfectly possible, and advisable to make your own mincemeat (see p32) and there are plenty of recipes available online (I’m a fan of Delia Smith’s). It’s best to limit the amount of lard (high in saturated fats) or vegetable shortening (high in trans fats).
Nina Lenton is a UK-registered dietitian living and working in Beijing. Have a question for Ms. Nutrition? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.