Healthy eating rarely goes hand-in-hand with enjoying a festive spread, but it’s easy to keep a few healthy habits going, so that your health doesn’t take a nosedive whilst you tuck into the umpteenth variation of Turkey-curry!!
At the risk of repeating myself (I think water features at least every other post, and I’m sure I was a parrot in a previous lifetime!), WATER is ESSENTIAL at any time, but especially over Christmas. Stress and alcohol are both hugely dehydrating, which affects every cell in your body. Cells need water to function, and during Christmas they are likely to be working under-par. Poor immunity (think lurgies), sluggish digestion, as well as feeling tired, can all spoil the Christmas holiday, so get on top of your game by ensuring a good intake of water each day.
An extra tip for digestion: drink half to one pint of warm water one half hour before eating. This helps you to digest your food better, thus preventing indigestion and heartburn. It also cleverly fills your tummy so that you don’t feel quite so tempted to have yet another helping of roast spuds!!
And talking of roast potatoes ……
Oils for roasting. NEVER cook with vegetable oils (and I would include Olive Oil in this) as you can easily damage the fats, which in turn causes inflammation within your body, something at the heart of most chronic disease. I always recommend coconut oil for cooking, especially for roasting, as it is more stable when heated up. If you are eating meat, animal fat is also safer to use than vegetable oils.
Better still, have mostly STEAMED VEGETABLES, with perhaps a small amount of roasts. Steaming works well for carrots, Brussel Sprouts, red cabbage and most other vegetables, and if cooked for a short time (so that there is still a bit of crunch to them) more nutrients will be retained.
EAT SOME RAW. If you are playing vegetable-chef for the day, it’s a great opportunity to nibble on lots of raw before the main meal. Crudites with light dips (perhaps hummus and guacamole) make a good starter instead of crisps and nuts, which are high in salt and damaged fats.
When you do eventually sit down to Christmas dinner, try to be MINDFUL in your eating.
Firstly, don’t pile your plate to dizzying heights, with chipolatas balanced on roasts over layers of meat. Try to include at last three portions of different steamed vegetables, and then add a small amount of roast potatoes and/or parsnips, with a small helping of protein (turkey, nut roast etc). Think of the meat as a garnish!!
More often than not on Christmas Day, meal time is disproportionately short compared to that for preparation and washing up!! Try to take your time over EACH mouthful and really savour your food. I find a good way to do this is to put my fork down whilst I’m chewing!! Eating mindfully helps you enjoy food more and allows your digestion to signal to you when it has had enough!!
Whether you are lucky enough to be sharing your meal with family or friends, or having a more low-key day, one of the most important things is to ENJOY your food. If you are used to a healthier plate in front of you, it won’t harm you to indulge just this once. Christmas pudding served with lashings of guilt tends to interfere with good digestion. Relax and enjoy instead.
Have a wonderfully delicious Christmas 🙂
Judith Reid is a naturopathic nutritionist and passionate about all things natural, elephants, travel and dance. Judith’s philosophy in life is very much in taking personal responsibility for one’s own health and believes that living more naturally is common sense. To read more about Judith click here
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