‘I’m a dietician – here are foods and drinks I’ll be avoiding this Christmas’

For many of us dieting goes out of the window at Christmastime. While we should definitely enjoy the festive season without obsessing over our weight or calorie intake, it is still worth being careful around certain foods.

This is because what we eat is not only linked to our weight and appearance but our overall health. And some foods could be damaging without us even realising.

Now experts are advising dodging some festive favourites you might not have considered unhealthy. Crackers, smoked fish and the charcuterie board are among the dishes you might need to cut down on.

The problem with many of these foods is sodium. Found in salt, sodium is a major contributing factor when it comes to high blood pressure – a condition that can raise your risk for strokes and heart attacks.

For example, smoked salmon can contain around 700 milligrams of sodium in 100g – just under half of the “ideal” daily recommended amount. And just seven slices of salami is enough to reach the American Heart Association-advised limit of 1,500mg.

Speaking to NBC, Lauren Au – a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of California, warned you also want to avoid eating out due to the amounts of sodium that could be added to your meals.

She said: “I also have young kids. So when they’re first exposed to foods, you want to reduce the amount of sodium because they’re developing their taste preferences.

“When I cook, I try to limit, if not have much sodium at all, and then just add it on to taste after it’s cooked.”

Processed meats, such as sausages, burgers and salami, are a major culprit for hiding sodium.

As reported by the MailOnline, Lauren therefore recommended swapping these meats for fresh seafood, chicken and tofu instead.

Avoiding fizzy and sugary drinks is also recommended over Christmas.

For this reason Jaimie Davis, a registered dietitian and professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, says she avoids sodas and even sports drinks.

Instead for a taste of “something special”, she encourages adding fruits and herbs like strawberries and basil to sparkling water.

The same goes with alcoholic drinks, Davis said.

She recommended mixing sparkling water with a dash of liquor, and garnishing with fruit like raspberries or pomegranate seeds, instead of using sugary mixers.

Her advice comes as a study published this year found that people who consume a lot of fizzy, sugary drinks are more at risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Between 1990 and 2018, the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages increased by 16 percent globally, the study found.

However, other nutritionists told NBC that avoiding certain foods is not always the correct approach.

Laura Bellows, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University, said a “moderation-is-key” approach is needed.

She added: “There are no bad foods, only bad quantities.”

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