The favourite time of the year for everyone is right at our door! It is the festive atmosphere, the family atmosphere, the gifts, but also the rich table full of food and sweets that offer us beautiful pictures!
However, those of us who are on a diet and those who care for their weight, are scared at the idea of unlimited delicious food and sweets at home, at the office, at the shops, at festive lunch and dinner parties, with the busy social schedule.
But, do we need to deprive ourselves of everything? During the holidays, we do not push ourselves to lose weight, but to maintain it in order to enjoy the festivities and eat or drink a bit more.
What ultimately will determine to a great extent whether we will gain weight or not are the sweets, that are everywhere and tempt us to indulge.
Melomakarono or kurabiye? This is the most classic question we dieticians hear during the Christmas holidays. Calory-wise, both sweets yield the same calories. From the nutritional point of view, the best option is the traditional melomakarono (depending of course on the method of making it). Their difference is that kurabiye is made with butter and sugar, as opposed to melomakarono, dominated by olive oil, walnuts and honey, which are certainly healthier choices with less “bad” fat. We must always bear in mind that adding a coating or filling to melomakarono increases both calories and grams of fat.
Next is a traditional Peloponnesian sweet of Christmas and weddings. Diples (rolls with honey) are a better choice than kurabiye because they have fewer calories and almost 50% less fat. Like melomakarono, they have honey and walnuts, but also several eggs. They are fried, usually in seed oils, so try not to overdo it and eat one piece only.
Baklava: The traditional homemade baklava made with olive oil and not with butter, has good fat, but several calories, depending on the amount of syrup.
Vasilopita (a sweet bread served in Greece on New Year’s Day): Cake or brioche? We all look forward to the cold coin at New Year’s Eve. We also look forward to the following morning to eat what is left of the vasilopita! The question is whether it is a cake or a brioche. The brioche is superior to the cake because it contains fewer calories and at the same time it has more antioxidants due to mastic and less saturated “bad” fat. In addition, if you make it yourself, you will also burn some calories!!! On the other hand, the cake contains protein of high biological value and enough calcium, due to the presence of eggs and milk.
How to consume sweets so that we do not completely go off our program?
– We try to consume up to 2-3 pieces of our favourite sweet per a week. If we know that we will be attending several social events or lunch/dinner parties, we try to be self-controlled, since they will definitely offer us a treat.
– If we do not know which sweet to choose, we prefer the healthiest and lightest version.
– Ideally we select one of the above Christmas sweets as breakfast, with a glass of milk. Thus, we get enough energy to start our day!
– We prefer homemade pastries, especially those we make on our own, in order to control the ingredients used. If we are familiar with baking, we may “alter” the recipe, for example by adding margarine instead of butter to kurabiye, etc.
– Under no circumstances will we avoid our main meals and fruits to replace them with sweets. Even if we ended up eating too much cake, we continue our program normally.
– If we can not resist in any way, we try to control our food and drink intake and follow a fixed fitness program.
– In any case, on festive days, we keep a diet diary, which will help us see our mistakes and review our attitude after the end of the holidays.