Along with the Christmas holiday season come all those family get-togethers and party invitations. It is generally a time to enjoy good food, great hospitality and to relax some of the rules of a healthy lifestyle that we try to follow for the rest of the year.
In order to avoid gaining too many kilograms over the festive season and to look after our long-term health without being a ‘party-pooper’, Bathurst Chiropractor Ben Purcell has put together some ideas for Christmas foods to eat for good health to enable everyone to enjoy the holiday season and go into 2018 looking, and feeling, great!
His first piece of advice?
Don’t Diet Over The Festive Season!
On average Australians gain about 1-1.5 kilos during the holiday season. That may not seem a lot but it is weight that most of us fail to lose after Christmas has ended. This extra weight usually accumulates around our middles and is often associated with a greater risk of Type-2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so this is definitely not good!
However, there is no point in making yourself miserable by trying to diet over the holidays – the best thing is to try to maintain your pre-Christmas weight with some healthy food and drink choices. But first here are some tips to help your willpower!
- Don’t go out for dinner or to a party without taking the edge off your appetite with a healthy snack beforehand. This will help you to avoid loading up on canapés and party food. Simple suggestions could include a tub of natural yoghurt, a bowl of wholegrain cereal, or a salad sandwich.
- Allow yourself some treats but make sure the majority of the foods on your plate include healthy options such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Christmas Goodies to Enjoy Guilt-Free!
Traditional Christmas nuts are good sources of the essential minerals, including magnesium, and the Omega-3 fatty acids that support the function of the heart and brain. The unsalted varieties are best as too much salt can raise blood pressure.
Christmas is a time when traditional foods and drinks often have added spices. Many of these have health benefits. For example, Cinnamon is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can also help to reduce cravings for sugar as well as lowering blood sugar. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory that can help with arthritis pain – and if you have over indulged a little, can help to soothe an upset tummy!
The traditional vegetables of Christmas, including red cabbage, sprouts and other cruciferous veggies are full of health-giving anti-oxidants, gentle cooking will help to preserve these. Piling your plate with more of these and fewer of the traditional roast potatoes will help to lower your calorie intake too!
What to Cut Back On
Saturated Fats: Christmas pudding, mince pies, roast potatoes, and Christmas cake are just some of the traditional ‘goodies’ that can be high in saturated fats. Choosing a smaller portion of these foods rather than denying yourself altogether is the sensible way to go in order to keep cholesterol levels and belly fat in check!
Salt: Keeping an eye on your salt intake is also wise. There are many salty snacks such as peanuts, chips and pretzels lurking among the Christmas ‘nibbles’. Limiting these and avoiding adding salt to meals can help keep salt intake below the recommended maximum of 6g per day. By doing this, you will be helping your kidneys and your blood pressure.
Sugar: With so many delicious treats around, it is difficult to cut back on sugar. For recipes you make at home, you can cut down on refined sugar by using raw honey or agave nectar instead. When choosing a chocolate from the box, go for a dark chocolate one and savour it slowly! That way you will get your chocolate ‘hit’ without consuming too many chocolates. By choosing dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao, you will be getting the health benefit of the antioxidant polyphenols it contains as well!
Alcohol: It’s good to enjoy a glass of wine or a drink with friends but keeping alcohol intake within safe limits (an average of one or two alcohol units per day and no more than four units on any one occasion), can help to avoid weight gain and alcohol-related health problems.
Be aware of serving sizes, avoid having your glass ‘topped-up’ as this can cause you to lose track of how much you have drunk, and drink water or another non-alcoholic drink in-between. Watch out for sugary ‘mixers’ too – try sparkling water with lemon, lime or orange as a mixer instead.
Your Bathurst Chiropractor, Ben Purcell would like to wish you a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year. Please call us on (02) 6331 1004 now to schedule an appointment – we are on hand to help should you need us.