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Have a merry, healthy Christmas

Emma West-Eggar

George Eliot Hospital’s Heart Failure Clinical Nurse Specialist offers some top tips to keep your heart healthy over the festive period.

Christmas is often treated as a time when, no matter how hard you try, you’ll over indulge on the festive treats. Emma West-Eggar, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust’s Heart Failure Clinical Nurse Specialist suggests making a few smart changes to ensure that you have a tasty, happy and healthy Christmas:

  • Ask Santa for a pedometer this Christmas and aim to walk 10,000 steps per day and exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week to keep your heart healthy.
  • Aim to keep your alcohol level to 2-3 units per day with 2 alcohol free days in the week.
  • Take time to relax this Christmas it’s important to have some YOU time!

When thinking about cooking for Christmas, it’s important to bear in mind the effect your diet can have on your health. Here are some smart tips you can follow, which will make sure you can have a tasty, happy and healthy Christmas:

  • Avoid adding salt to your meals, try having dishes of flavourings that complement your meal such as herbs, chillies and ground pepper.
  • Make sure you provide plenty of vegetables or salad alongside the main dish so guests can fill up on these and help them achieve their 5 a day.
  • Buy frozen, don’t be afraid to use frozen vegetables as they are sometimes more nutritious than fresh.  They will last well in the freezer so there’s no waste.  
  • Prick the turkey before cooking it, to help the fat drain out. For an added bonus, don’t eat the skin, this is where most of the fat in the dish comes from
  • Swap roast potatoes for baked potatoes. They’re just as tasty, but much better for you.
  • If you make your own gravy, pour the turkey juices into a jug and leave it to rest for a few minutes. The fat will float to the top, and you can scoop it off before making the gravy.
  • Use semi-skimmed milk to make your bread sauce and cut out half the fat
  • Instead of adding butter to sprouts, add fresh lemon or herbs to give an added flavour kick
  • For your Christmas pudding, swap brandy butter and double cream for low fat custard and greek yoghurt to finish off the meal with a twist


All of these changes can add up to a 500kcal difference per person and you’ll be looking after your cholesterol levels by consuming less fat.

For more information on staying healthy at Christmas, visit http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthychristmas/Pages/HealthyChristmashome.aspx


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