Healthy Eating – The Christmas Market Edition

… and no counting calories!
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mulled apple juice © foodspring

It’s not easy to decide what the best thing about December is. The peace and quiet, the time with family and friends, the fairy lights twinkling in windows, or the Christmas and winter markets. The markets are definitely one of the highlights, but they’re also quick to tempt us into overdoing things with roasted almonds, mulled wine, and gingerbread. Are you supposed to just eat nothing then? No, that’s not an option, because you should enjoy the festive season as much as you can and you should treat yourself to whatever you feel like. To keep your energy levels up, keep to your workout routine, and stay fit and healthy throughout the month of December. You don’t have to avoid the Christmas markets, you just have to make the right choices.

Just swap…

…Bratwurst for flamed salmon (Flammlachs)

When you visit a Christmas market hungry, it probably feels like you’re in paradise because everything just smells so irresistibly good. The trick is to choose something that really fills you up and makes you less susceptible to all the sweet treats around you. It has been proven that this works best when you choose a large serving of protein, especially when combined with healthy fats. What a fitting coincidence that at almost every Christmas market you visit, you’ll find flaming salmon which provides you with just that. To illustrate this: roughly 100g contains 20g of protein, whereas a bratwurst contains just 12g, and potato fritters (Reibekuchen) around 5g.

…potato fritters for a baked potato

We love all kinds of potatoes! Not just because they’re so versatile and because you can conjure up all kinds of dishes like this creamy potato soup, but also because of the positive effect they have on health. Studies have shown that they not only have anti-inflammatory and anti diabetic effects, but that they are also helpful in weight loss. If you want to save on fat and calories however, you can easily trade potato fritters for a large baked potato. And if we’re honest, potato pancakes taste far better when they’re homemade anyway, so you’re not missing out here.

Related: Potatoes really are that healthy

… waffles for chocolate-covered fruit

Sometimes you just need something sweet during your visit to the Christmas markets, whether that’s a dessert or a snack. Chocolate-covered fruit is the perfect alternative to sweet, greasy pastries like waffles, because unlike the empty carbs baked in fat, you’re still benefiting from fiber, vitamins and minerals like potassium when you eat chocolate-covered strawberries, grapes or bananas. This allows you to combine what you want (chocolate) with something that’s good for your body (fruit). That’s a pretty good solution.

…roasted almonds for chestnuts

The real classics of Christmas markets are, and will always be, roasted almonds. You’ll also find sugar-coated cashews, walnuts and the like at almost every other stall. You can probably smell them just by thinking about them. If you want to skip the sugar though, you should try roasted chestnuts. They’re pleasantly nutty and provide you with vitamins (especially vitamin C) and minerals. They also don’t contain any gluten, which isn’t exactly common for a Christmas market snack.

… mulled wine for fruit punch

One of the highlights of the Christmas season is, of course, mulled wine. You won’t find many that will argue with you on that! But depending on how often you visit the Christmas market, it may be worth replacing it with a non-alcoholic variant such as children’s punch. Depending on how it’s prepared, it won’t give you far fewer calories than mulled wine (around 210 calories per cup), but the key difference is that alcohol is proven to tempt you to indulge in additional snacks that you would otherwise never have eaten. Another alternative that contains less alcohol and fewer calories is hot apple cider.
Calories shouldn’t be your main priority this holiday season, of course, however mulled wine will probably prevent you from following your usual routine and completing a workout the next morning and will instead end up giving you a headache. That’s something you can definitely do without.

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