Curly Questions

Any tips for enjoying a low GI Christmas dinner without piling on the pounds? The roast turkey is non negotiable!
Putting on weight over the Christmas period is a problem for many of us – all that eating with family and friends. But, it’s more likely to be all the trimmings and treats that pile on the pounds rather than The Dinner itself. A word of warning: a single mince pie contains about 250 calories! Here’s what the British Dietetic Association suggests:


‘Turkey is a low fat meat – most of the fat is stored in the skin, so remove the skin and you cut down on fat. Adding plenty of seasonal vegetables such as unbuttered Brussels sprouts, peas and carrots will contribute to your 5-a-day fruit and vegetable intake … Smoked salmon makes a good starter and is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps keep your heart healthy; alternatively try a hearty vegetable soup or a refreshing melon starter. Christmas pudding is rich so a small portion should be satisfying enough, or you could go for fresh fruit salad or baked apples as a virtuous alternative … (For snacks) have healthy options to hand, such as fresh or dried fruit like dates, figs and apricots. Satsumas (type of plum) are handy, so keep a large bowl of these other fruits close by. Chestnuts are lower in fat than most nuts so roast a few and leave the salted peanuts to one side.’

All we would add is ditch the Yorkshire pud, cut back on the roast potatoes and include some lower GI options like roasted pumpkin, sweet potato and parsnips along with carrots and onions. And keep those portions moderate, eat slowly and say no thanks to seconds – remember Grandma’s words: ‘you should leave the table feeling as though you still have a little room in your tummy’.

I have seen a number of articles now suggesting that drinking fruit juice is not a good idea for those of us trying to maintain a healthy weight and glucose levels. I know we are encouraged to drink water, but it’s not always what you want when you sit down with friends on a summer’s evening or join colleagues for that after-work drink.
It’s a great idea to choose non-alcoholic alternatives to enjoy the spirit of the occasion without the side effects and (possibly) half the calories. You don’t have to toss a coin to decide between energy-dense juice or soda with a dash of lime or verjuice. There are plenty non-alcoholic beers and wines to choose from, although you may have to BYO, as they aren’t widely available in restaurants and bars. You can, however, pick up a bottle from your supermarket, maybe your local liquor store, and of course online.


Non-alcoholic wines are actually de-alcoholised wines. The wine is made the traditional way (even ‘aged in oak’ at times, and then the alcohol is removed. The legal definition of a non-alcoholic beverage means it has less than 0.5 percent alcohol. This is because it is just not possible to remove 100% of the alcohol. It’s a pricey process and the end result isn’t the same as regular wine or beer so it’s best not to compare them. But do check them out, you’ll be surprised at the range on offer and you are sure to find one that appeals. Joe Timmins of Clearmind who distribute dealcoholised beverages such as Ariel wines and Lowenbrau Alkoholfrei in Australia and New Zealand says that the market isn’t niche at all – it is growing in leaps and bounds and includes large numbers of people who don’t drink for religious or health reasons including pregnant women and, he says, ‘there are many people who simply want an alternative because they are on duty or on call like doctors or airline pilots, or simply want an alcohol-free option’. Joe agrees that there’s a big range in the quality of what’s on offer in the supermarket, so it pays to be choosy, just as you would with any wine or beer. ‘I really love the Ariel reds as my favourite food is Italian,’ he says. For more information on dealcoholised wines or beers (or to opt for a clear head over Christmas/New Year and order some), check out Clearmind.

In The Diabetes and Pre-diabetes Handbook (The New Glucose Revolution for Diabetes in North America), dietitian Dr Alan Barclay says: ‘Low alcohol and alcohol-free beers contain roughly the same amount of carbohydrate as the alcoholic varieties and will have little effect on your BGLs if you drink them in moderation. Many low- and non-alcoholic wines, on the other hand, are based on grape juice, and give you about 10–15 g of carbohydrate per 100 mL (a bit under ½ cup) serve (do check the label). They probably won’t cause your blood glucose levels to rise rapidly, but just because they are alcohol free, don’t think you can drink them freely if you are watching your BGLs or your weight. If you want something a bit more exotic, you could always try a mocktail.’


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