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Revealed: Just how many calories are in your favourite festive treats?

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Orla Walsh says it can be helpful to look at calories for those who want to watch their weight at Christmas

Orla Walsh says it can be helpful to look at calories for those who want to watch their weight at Christmas

Orla Walsh says it can be helpful to look at calories for those who want to watch their weight at Christmas

Indulgent festive feasting is part and parcel of the Christmas experience. It’s only a few days in the year after all — and this year has been an especially challenging one.

But what about those who want to manage their weight over the festive season? Is there a way to make healthier choices but still eat well?

Dietician Orla Walsh says she doesn’t discuss calories with the vast majority of her clients, especially around Christmas. “A lot of people would look forward to all the Christmas foods, as well as enjoying whatever they want. It’s food at its best and it’s there to be enjoyed,” she says.

“However, for some people, it can be helpful if they’re just trying to manage weight gain around Christmas and discussing calories isn’t a trigger for them.”

If you’re trying to watch your weight this month, it’s best to go back to basics: monitor your portion sizes, have one dessert instead of two and try to stick in or around your recommended daily intake of calories, depending on your age, metabolism and levels of physical activity.

With that in mind, we looked at the five big supermarkets and compared the calorie content of their Christmas staples.

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Vol-au-vents are very calorific

Vol-au-vents are very calorific

Vol-au-vents are very calorific

Canapés

We might not be hosting Christmas parties this year, but that doesn’t mean we have to forego the smorgasbord of Christmas party food the supermarkets have on offer. Vol-au-vents are a Christmas classic, but they tend to be one of the more calorific options.

One SuperValu Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent contains 86kcal, while one M&S Va Va Voom Vol-au-vent (mixed pack) is 67-69kcal. If you’re looking for a healthier option, go for a breaded or lightly battered king prawn. One Tesco Finest Tempura King Prawn is 38kcal. The Dunnes Stores equivalent is 30kcal.

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Potato gratin

Potato gratin

Potato gratin

Sides

Generally speaking, shop-bought vegetables will contain more calories than fresh vegetables prepared at home. But convenience is king this year and the shelves are stocked high with decadent sides. If potato gratin is on the menu, SuperValu’s Signature Tastes version contains 284kcal per serving, compared to Tesco’s Creamy Potato Gratin, which comes in at 203kcal for the same size serving.

Mashed potato seems like the lower calorie option, but there isn’t much in it. Tesco’s Finest Creamy Mash is 233kcal per serving, while the same size serving of Lidl’s Hilltop Farm Buttery Mashed Potato is 258kcal.

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Christmas stuffing

Christmas stuffing

Christmas stuffing

Stuffing

The supermarkets can’t seem to agree on how many grammes one serving of sage and onion stuffing contains. At SuperValu it’s 55g, at Tesco it’s 50g and at Dunnes Stores it’s 45g. Realistically speaking, one serving is at least 100g, so that’s 249kcal for SuperValu, 244kcal for Tesco and 240kcal for Dunnes Stores.

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Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding is one of the more calorific Christmas desserts. One serving of SuperValu’s Signature Taste Six Month Matured Pudding is 387kcal. The same size serving of M&S’s equivalent is 380kcal. Other supermarkets are selling Christmas puddings for one — ideal for those who want to treat themselves in the days leading up to or after Christmas.

Tesco’s Finest Christmas Pudding for one contains 329kcal, while Lidl’s Deluxe Mini Christmas Pudding (part of a two-pack) contains 292kcal. Add a generous scoop of brandy butter (approx 520kcal per 100g) and a second portion and you’re into four-digit numbers.

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You're looking at at least 200kcal per serving of trifle

You're looking at at least 200kcal per serving of trifle

You're looking at at least 200kcal per serving of trifle

Christmas trifle

It’s important to watch out for nutritional guidelines that describe one serving as 100g. One “serving” of Lidl’s Milbona Strawberry Trifle is 135kcal — if you manage to eat only 1/6 of the 600g confection. Realistically, you’re looking at least 200kcal per serving. One serving, or a quarter, of Tesco’s 600g Strawberry Trifle is 213kcal, while SuperValu’s 125g Strawberry Trifle (for one) is 145kcal.

The greatest calorie variance isn’t between the supermarkets, but between two trifles sitting side by side in the refrigerated area of the M&S Foodhall. One pot of M&S Strawberry Jelly Trifle (part of a three-pack) contains 167kcal. One pot of their Best Ever Trifle contains 290kcal. It is their best ever, in fairness.

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Mince pies are fairly equal when it comes to calories

Mince pies are fairly equal when it comes to calories

Mince pies are fairly equal when it comes to calories

Mince pies

Not all mince pies are created equal in terms of taste, but they’re fairly equal when it comes to calories. A single M&S All Butter Mince Pie is 230kcal, while one of Tesco’s Finest Mince Pies is 251kcal. The “deep fill” mince pies on offer in other supermarkets sound like they’re considerably more calorific, but they tally up more or less the same.

One of SuperValu’s Deep Fill Mince Pies is 249kcal; the Dunnes Stores equivalent comes in at 248kcal. Add 190kcal if you’re having a (250ml) glass of mulled wine on the side.

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One serving (30g) of Stilton blue cheese contains 123kcal

One serving (30g) of Stilton blue cheese contains 123kcal

One serving (30g) of Stilton blue cheese contains 123kcal

Festive favourites

It wouldn’t be Christmas without snacks and treats. But if you’re trying to manage your weight, it’s helpful to know the calorie content of certain festive favourites. One serving (30g) of Stilton blue cheese contains 123kcal, while one serving of Camembert contains 90kcal.

A large (250ml) glass of wine contains 190kcal and a 125ml snipe of Champagne contains 95kcal. As for the obligatory Tayto Party Box? One bag of cheese and onion crisps contains 182kcal.

Five easy ways to make healthier food and drink choices during Christmas

It’s time to eat, drink and be merry, but if you want to avoid gaining weight over Christmas, dietician Orla Walsh has a few tips.

Eat mindfully
Try and eat all foods mindfully. Eat slowly, without distraction and to use all five senses. That way you’ll get the true experience of the food and more enjoyment. And you might be satisfied on less because you’re able to listen to your body’s cues around fullness.

Increase your protein intake
Protein (lean meats, poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy, nuts) helps us manage our intake and also helps to keep us fuller for longer. I’ll give you an example: one slice of toast with butter on it has the same amount of calories as two to three eggs or one serving of turkey or ham. I could certainly eat four slices of toast, but I’d struggle to eat eight to 12 eggs or four turkey breasts.

Don’t skip meals
Don’t skip meals and keep a routine as much as possible — and that goes for kids as well. It’s natural to binge after we restrict, so don’t have a restrictive mindset going into Christmas. Instead, maybe focus on what you need to be eating for better energy, to nourish yourself and help support your immune system.

Get your five a day
If your fruit, veg and fibre intake reduces, you can get constipated, bloated and feel sluggish. So I would encourage people to focus on including healthier food in their day over the Christmas period so they feel well and enjoy their meals.

Hide snacks when drinking
Our inhibitions reduce and we are more likely to snack when we drink alcohol. Research shows that if you can see the food, you’re more likely to eat it and homes are packed with snacks at Christmas.

Online Editors


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