Nutrition: Christmas calorie counting

Enjoy your turkey and trimmings but go steady on the pud and party foods

The nights are long and dark, the days are cold, and there are the joys and stresses of Christmas to look forward to... But there are many ways to enjoy this time of year and eating and drinking with friends and family is one of them.

The trouble is, when the festive period extends over weeks rather than a few days, your calorie intake may overtake the amount you burn off during cycling.

One of the easiest ways of overeating at this time of year is snacking at parties

The original pagan festival in December was designed to bring out some luxury foods to enliven the spirit and provide some different foods during the long, winter months, but the modern diet these days isn't short of variety and, at Christmas, meals can be particularly rich. If you have decided to reduce your training schedule and let your body rest and recover, it pays to feed your muscles well and wisely with good quality foods, but also avoid storing extra fat.

One of the easiest ways of overeating at this time of year is snacking at parties. Watch out for those tiny bite-sized sausage rolls or creamy dips. Nuts are a fabulous food, but avoid standing by the bowl of salted peanuts!

A traditional meal of turkey and trimmings and plenty of vegetables can fill you up without overloading your intake. The trouble is, most folk rarely stop there and it's the puddings and sweet extras that can add to the extra calories. Enjoy ready-to-eat dates instead of too many chocolates, and satsumas, tangerines and fruit salad rather than heavy puddings. Also, crack open your own walnuts and almonds - they can be quite a challenge to break, which helps slow down your rate of consumption!

Here are some common Christmassy foods, their calorie count, and the amount of time you'd have to spend cycling at 10mph on a flat road to burn them off.

Sweet stuff

Food Calories Mins cycling
Greek yoghurt [2 teaspoons] 85 14
4 satsumas 100 16
Fresh fruit salad [large portion] 120 20
4 squares filled mint chocolate 140 23
Brandy butter [heaped tsp] 140 23
Whipped double cream [3tsp] 160 27
1 deep filled mince pie 210 35
1 small slice fruit cake [no icing] 240 40
Christmas pudding [small portion] 300 50
6 chocolate covered brazil nuts 330 55
1 small slice fruit cake & icing 420 70

Party snacks

Food Calories Mins cycling
Salsa (spicy tomato) dip 10 2
9 small, green or black, olives 30 5
1 bite sized pizza square 30 5
Creamy dip (per scoop) 40 7
1 small sausage roll (bite size) 60 10
5 tortilla chips 80 13
3 cocktail sausages 120 20
1 small chicken vol au vent 130 22
3 handfuls crisps 150 25
1 small handful salted peanuts 170 28

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