A Healthier Christmas Eating

Shannon Samuel
Presenter: Katherine Lodge
Guest: Shannon Samuel
Guest Bio: Shannon is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. She loves to experiment with new foods to create healthy and appetizing meals!

Segment Overview:
Shannon Samuel talks about Christmas eating, feasting on healthier meals this Christmas!


Health Professional Radio

Katherine Lodge: Thank you for listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m Katherine and today we are joined by Shannon Samuel. Shannon is a qualified accredited practicing dietitian and accredited nutritionist. She is a current member of the Dietitians Association of Australia, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and with honors and also Clinical Nutrition and Diabetics from the University of Sydney and has also completed further Health Coaching Training and she currently works for the Australian Diabetes Council. Welcome to our show.

Shannon Samuel: Thanks for having me.

K: Now Shannon you deal with educating children, adolescents, adults in dietary prevention of mainly of diabetes including type I, type II and gestational diabetes. Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Australian Diabetes Council?

S: Yeah, absolutely. Well as everyone should probably be aware that type II diabetes is growing at a very fast rate. So one person is being diagnosed every 5 minutes in Australia with type II diabetes. So one of my main roles is actually getting the healthy eating tips out there amongst the public to help reduce their risk of developing type II diabetes but also if they do have type II diabetes or type I diabetes, just learning that how to manage it best to reduce the risk of complications.

K: Sure and you’ve joined us today to talk about “Christmas keeps and Christmas eating” so a very timely time of year where people tend to over indulge let’s say.

S: Absolutely.

Both: (laugh)

K: So let’s talk about maybe some swaps that we can do for Christmas food. For example if you could cook Christmas meal. What can we do maybe just swap out certain foods that are slightly healthier?

S: Yeah I guess it’s just making those little small changes. We do understand that Christmas is gonna be time where we do have a few festive treats but if we can try and choose a lower fat options and I think that are lower in salt as well, we’re gonna be doing much better. So for example if you’re a family that sits down to a beautiful turkey and with all the skin and the gravy, maybe swapping to taking the skin off your turkey and maybe swapping to something more like a cranberry sauce which will be lower in fats and salt than your normal gravy, would be a good swap.

K: And as I understand it, turkey is slightly healthier than chicken, is that correct?

S: Sure, I think that too. Look if poultry tends to be a little bit lower in fat but if you can definitely try and remove all the skin and the layer just under the skin it’s gonna take out most of the fat from your meal.

K: Right and what about dessert? In terms of dessert, what can we swap out? Like if we love the Christmas trifle or the mini all the pavlovas for example.

S: Yes. Cause sometimes it’s actually swapping to something like a mini pavlovas and topping up with some low fat yogurt and some fresh fruits and something like a raspberry or passion fruit would be actually a much healthier option than some of your health yeah the Christmas cake with custard or your creamy trifle which your gonna be much higher in fat and kilojoule.

K: Right and what about some snacks? If you go or wanting to snack in between with the big feast, what are some of the snacks you can recommend?

S: Yes. So the snack can also be one of the biggest problems can be. So maybe trading some of your cheese products or cheesy dips and chips for something more fresher maybe get some vegetable sticks with some low fat dip or salsas. Maybe swapping your chips to air popped popcorn or some low fat pretzels would be a better option.

K: Right, yeah. Good choices there and good thing is they’re all still quite tasty and indulgent.

S: Absolutely, yeah.

K: And what about people heading at to parties? Christmas parties, work parties, not just Christmas but the summer … a lot because the weather’s a bit nicer. A lot of people are trying parties over the summer. What tips can you give to people heading out to parties where they’re not in control of maybe the menu that they are served?

S: Yeah, sure. Well number one tip try not to go to a cocktail party on an empty stomach. So try and have something nutritious before you leave, it’s gonna fill you up a little bit. Maybe some low fat yogurt and a piece of fruit and a healthy toasted sandwich or something. So you’ve got something in your stomach to start off with.

K: Right.

S: If you’re going to a party where its ganna be a sit down meal, try and bulk up your meal with lots of fresh vegetables and eat cooked veggies or your salads to try and fill half your plate with your veggies, a quarter of your plate with some sort of lean protein so your lean red meat, chicken or fish and then try and have of that a quarter of your plate with some high fiber carbohydrates so maybe a grainy bread roll or some sweet potato or corn.

K: Right and when you go to a buffet or something just everything looks so good and you want to as you said like loading up your plate, well besides salads – what can we avoid? Maybe some less starchy food perhaps or any recommendation there?

S: Yeah, so get that similar having half of your plate lots of non-starchy vegetables that’s all your cooked veggies and salad veggies except for potato – sweet potato and corn. So most definitely have some starchy vegetables or other carbohydrate but do try and keep that to about a quarter of your plate and then getting those healthy lean proteins in. The other thing is just be careful not to double up on too many different things. So if you’ve got potato, pasta and a bread roll, you’re probably overdoing a little bit there. So just keeping to one plate as well to avoid the temptation to go back for extras.

K: Right, yeah and very good advice. And also let’s move on to tell them about drinks. Now I think some people don’t realize how many calories there actually are in a glass of wine. Can you talk a bit about drinks and how to manage that?

S: Yeah, absolutely. Look if you do choose to drink alcohol, be cautious on how much you are drinking and of course do it responsibly. So the recommendation is up to 2 standard drinks a day for both men and women. Now a standard drink is not a size of your standard wine glass, it’s only a 100ml so if you need to watch that or if you’re thinking about beer it’s maybe full strength or a schooner … And other than the health consequences of alcohol, alcohol dose are very high in kilojoules so it does tend to sack on the way if you are drinking quite a bit. So think about going for your life for alcohol options and reducing your size down. For example if you think about a full strength schooner pf beer if you could swap down to a medium size and have a low alcohol beer you actually save about 400 kilojoules. So those more little changes can make big effects and you’d still be out to have that social experience I guess.

K: Right. Like so you mentioned 400 kilojoules in terms of food what is the equivalent of that for example?

S: And the 400 kilojoules that would be if I’m thinking about, if we’re thinking about Christmas food, that would be about two candy canes.

K: Oh okay.

S: Yeah or you could think of it in terms of slices of bread let’s say about one and a half slices of bread, one to one a half.

K: Right. And also some while we’re out and about eating and drinking and dare I say I think there will be some people that will be consuming more than two standards drinks with a higher kilojoules. What are some of the tips that you can give them to stay hydrated and also just to stay active while they are feasting?

S: Yup, sure. So always remember that water is your best choice for hydration. So don’t rely on your beer or wine to quench that thirst, do start with a glass of water and try and space out your alcoholic drinks with a non-alcoholic drink, then maybe a glass of water or a diet soft drinks or something can phase it out and prolong it a little bit further.

K: Right and it actually probably keeps us fuller. So let’s take…

S: Yeah absolutely, absolutely.

K: Well Thank you so much for giving us some practical tips for this Christmas and summer season. So thanks so much for your time today.

S You’re welcome.

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