Make healthier food choices in the festive season

It's the time of year when everyone indulges.  However, new research from The George Institute for Global Health has revealed huge variations in the sugar, fat, salt and energy content of those favorite items in the Christmas hamper.

The study examined Christmas top treats, including chocolate nuts, fruit cakes, truffles, cranberry sauce and mince pies. One make of shortbread contains 62 times more salt than a rival product.
Kylie Howes, the FoodSwitch Database Administrator at The George Institute for Global Health, said the results showed consumers should shop around and check the labels before buying: “We are not trying to be the Christmas Scrooge because we know people love to eat these naughty items in the festive season. But, some of these treats contain far higher amounts of saturated fat, salt and sugar than others.

"It's the time of year when people generally don’t think about their waistlines but what we have shown is that some treats are going to be much kinder to your health than others.”

Professor Craig Anderson, Executive Director of the George Institute, China, said: “To help people make healthier packaged food choices, we designed ‘FoodSwitch’, an innovative mobile health app, which gives instant ‘easy to understand’ nutrition information about packaged food products, and provides directions on healthier alternatives.”
Tips for a healthier Christmas
• If you do indulge and have some packaged treats on Christmas day, opt for the pre-sliced or pre-portioned products to help you control how much you eat. For example, having one 30g mini-fruit mince pie instead of a regular 60g fruit mince pie can save you a whopping 450 kJ of energy.
• Instead of nibbling on those chocolate coated nuts, keep a bowl of raw or roasted unsalted mixed nuts on the table. And try to stick to the smaller 30g serve size. Nuts are full of fiber and protein and help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
• Try creating your own sauces out of fresh or frozen fruit such as mixed berries, cranberries, cherries and apples. This way you can keep added sugar down.
• If you must have that slice of Christmas cake or pudding, instead of adding custard, ice cream or cream, try some natural low-fat yoghurt and fresh fruit.