It’s here again! Santa’s sleigh is on its way, parties are in full swing, mince pies and mulled wine are hovering seductively. Not to mention chocolates, canopes and festive lattes. While I may be partial to the odd one of these myself (I promise you I am no saint), here are my top ten nutritional tips to help your waistline and energy levels survive this year.
1. Have protein with your breakfast. We need protein to help stabilise our blood sugars. If we have foods like toast, honey and orange juice for breakfast a surge of sugar hits the bloodstream and we kick out insulin – this makes you store fat and can lead to sugar cravings and energy dips. Get yourself off to a good start. Eggs, porridge with plenty of nuts and seeds or natural yoghurt, nuts and berries are good choices. I’ll be making smoothies with coconut milk, frozen berries and banana, hemp seeds and natural yoghurt 1st thing. Yumm!
2. Cook loads of vegetables with the meals you’re in control of and fill half your plate with them. Go for the non-starchy green and red veg (broccoli, kale, cabbage, leeks, peas, green beans, red peppers, tomatoes etc). These are full of anti-oxidants, magnesium and vit C (useful in times of over-indulgence and stress – did I say stress, surely not at Christmas☺ ). They also prevent you filling up most of your plate with starchy carbs or fatty meats, helping battle the festive bulge! Did you know that most of us consume around 3000 calories with our Christmas meal? – eeeks, that’s pretty hefty!
3. Stock up with chestnuts to roast and “proper” nuts to crack. Some of the supermarkets are doing packs of nuts complete with nutcracker. They look lovely on tables for nibbles and by eating them you’ll be adding minerals and energy giving B vitamins to your diet. Chestnuts are low fat, nutrient dense and, deliciously warm from the oven, make a great snack in front of a film.
4. Make some healthy soups in advance and freeze so you can defrost and have for the smaller meals over the festive period. Pack them full of vegetables, especially green ones and you can have an easy light lunch or supper brimming with nutrients. It might prevent you attacking the cheese and crackers!
5. Add salmon to scrambled egg, have a mackerel salad at lunch or sardines on wholegrain bread.
Smoked salmon on rye bread is very good with champagne (I can’t wait!). These fish provide essential fats which are needed to balance blood sugars (see 1), are anti-inflammatory and good for your immune system. We can get them from some seeds too (flax, hemp, chia).
6. For a crunchy snack to have with drinks try Oaty Bakes instead of crisps or dry fry some pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a pan with tamari (or soy sauce) to give a salty flavour. The seeds will pop and take on a completely different texture, but more importantly you’ll be getting big doses of minerals and some protein.
7. Add artichoke hearts and beetroots to salads – both are exceptionally good for your liver. Artichokes may help reduce indigestion too and help stimulate bile so you can digest your fats!
8. Drink water as well as wine!! This may sound blindingly obvious but it’s incredibly easy to forget. If you don’t like plain water, have sparkling with lime juice (extra vit C) or try a little elderflower cordial. Your head, liver and YOU will be grateful the next day.
9. Swap an after-dinner coffee for peppermint, nettle or fennel tea: all of these can aid digestion and nettle is a wonderful cleanser.
10. Leftover turkey? Make a curry and add lots of turmeric, onions and garlic: all great for a slightly overworked liver ☺
Do all these little things and you’ll have a healthier Christmas. Wishing you a very happy one!!