It’s here again! Santa’s sleigh is on its way, parties are full swing, mince pies and mulled wine are hovering seductively. Not to mention chocolates, canopes and festive lattes. Here are my top ten nutritional tips to prove you can enjoy yourself while helping your waistline and energy levels survive this year. Oh, BTW, did you know one well-known coffee shop’s Eggnog Latte contains as much fat as 2.5 doughnuts?! Ouch!!
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. Make some raw chocolates as a present for yourself or your loved ones. So easy and delicious and packed with anti-oxidants. When I fancy some chocolate I make myself a chia seed pudding with 3 dessertspoons chia seeds, 100ml or so coconut milk, dark choc powder and some raw honey. Mix, leave for 20 mins and enjoy!
3. Stock up with chestnuts to roast and “proper” nuts to crack. 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! If excess food is making you a bit windy, have some fennel in your salads.
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 your slightly overworked liver ☺
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