By our Nutritional Therapist Shakela Shan
The festive season can be a stressful period with so much to plan and prepare. On top of that, sticking to a healthy eating plan whilst celebrating can be difficult. Don’t panic help is at hand with my top 5 tips to guide you along the way…
- This is certainly not the time for restricting but it’s worth implementing a few small swaps to avoid overindulging on the not so good stuff. The festive spread can still be enjoyed you just need to make savvy choices with food combinations that will offer satiety so you can partake without the guilt of falling off track.
- Christmas dinner has to be one of the healthiest, tastiest, and balanced meals going in my opinion. Think turkey meat it’s a great source of lean protein and tryptophan an amino acid, which the body converts to serotonin known for its mood-boosting properties – something we can all benefit from. Potatoes with the skin on, roasted in coconut oil with garlic and rosemary are packed with fibre, good fats, potassium, zinc and vitamin C, essential nutrients for gut health and a healthy immune system. And let’s not forget vegetables, including brussel sprouts – love them or hate them they are bursting with nutrients. Cover at least half of your plate with a variety of colourful veggies and your gut bacteria will thank you for it!
- Give your digestive system some TLC and allow it time to digest and absorb Christmas dinner before moving on to dessert. It can take 20-30 minutes for the gut to signal to the brain that it is full. Now is a good time to entertain family and friends with a table quiz or Christmas cracker jokes!
- If you have a sweet tooth it doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Make your treat healthier by having a smaller portion of what you fancy and pair it with some protein to help stabilise dancing blood sugar levels. A mini mince pie with a dollop of yogurt anyone? Perhaps a healthy cheese board with grapes, walnuts, and cheese on oatcakes? Or vitamin C rich satsumas with a handful of mixed nuts. My favourite is medjool dates stuffed with Brazil nuts dipped in dark chocolate and coated with desiccated coconut.
- Over doing it on alcohol at this time of year can become problematic. It disrupts hormones and results in common symptoms such as headaches, low mood, irritability and fatigue. If you decide to have a few drinks, remember to pace yourself and alternate it with glasses of water to keep you hydrated and fuller. The simplest way to avoid unpleasant symptoms is to not drink alcohol. As a healthy alternative, opt for non-alcoholic mulled wine or “vine” – that’s apple cider vinegar in sparkling water, which not only tastes good but acts as a digestive aid.
And finally, a bonus tip – remember to step aside and gift yourself stillness where you can take a moment to breathe slowly and deeply and be gentle with yourself. Sending love, kindness & blessings to all – Merry Christmas and a Healthy 2022!