With the festivities presenting opportunities to indulge at breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in-between, clever food choices can keep you healthy while you still enjoy some treats.

By Katherine Watt 

Seasonal swaps for Christmas parties!

From the snack tray

Nibbles are all part and parcel of Christmas, but handfuls of Bombay mix and crisps aren’t ideal. If you can’t resist them, for every deep-fried bite, have two crudites such as pepper slices or carrots to maximise your intake of vitamins such as A, C and the Bs. This will help combat toxins from the processed fats. Don’t skip on the nuts though – walnuts, Brazils and hazelnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit both your brain and body.

From the cheese board

Unless you’ve been told to watch your saturated fat intake due to heart health risks, it’s fine to keep cheese firmly on the menu. Ones with soft rinds such as Camembert, Brie and fresh goat’s cheese provide a good dose of bone-boosting calcium and skin-toning vitamin A. If you prefer blue cheeses or runny, unpasturised varieties such as Epoisses or Livarot, all the better, as they can help boost levels of friendly gut bacteria.

From the selection box

Choose dark chocolates, preferably 70 per cent or more, as the high cocoa content will give you a nerve-relaxing magnesium boost. And it’s best to go for chocs with nuts in rather than syrupy fillings, which are high in refined sugar and additives.

At the buffet

Choose protein-rich options such as smoked salmon, prawns, cold meats and chipolatas, instead of carbier things such as pastries or breadsticks. Protein helps to regulate glucose so you’re less likely to overeat, whereas carbs raise it.

At the bar

Swap sparkling wine, which is high in free sugars, for a glass of dry sherry, which has only 58 calories. But it’s the fizz factor you’re after, choose a dry cider – the bubbles feel just as celebratory! Plus, French ciders have less alcohol than British. There are some beautiful artisanal brands on the shelves, such as AVAL from the Breton region. If you prefer spirits, opt for fizzy water and a garnish rather than fruit juice or soda.