Have a Healthy Christmas, how to have your Christmas cake and eat it!

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Catherine Jeans’ top tips for a healthy and tasty Christmas

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As a nutritional therapist there is an expectation that I never indulge and only eat healthily 365 days a year. No cake! No biscuits, no alcohol! However, tis the season to be jolly and I’m a big believer in not restricting yourself, finding a good balance in your diet and enjoying yourself and the food you eat.

As December arrives, so does a flurry of emails from concerned clients, mainly worrying about how to enjoy Christmas while looking after their health and nutritional intake. Those who have worked hard all year to lose or maintain weight start to fret as they get busier and more stressed, knowing that they are more likely to eat on the run (grabbing high carb sugary snacks) attending parties, social events and of course the main event itself: Christmas Day.

Research actually shows us that having a little bit of what you fancy is positively good for us. In my view we should be focusing on eating well for life. So when festivities and other celebrations come, it’s okay to enjoy some treats.  If we try to be good when everyone is having fun, we’re more likely to secretly eat. Or then have a binge on the wrong stuff and feel guilty about it afterwards. Enjoy yourself; some might say it helps us to live longer if we enjoy ourselves every now and again…

Remember it’s in your control to have a healthy relationship with food, if you have an indulgent night out, enjoy it and look to eat healthily for the following week. It’s all about balance.

So here are a few of my very simple tips for enjoying the traditional Christmas fare without the guilt.

Remember it’s easy to pack your diet with plenty of healthy ingredients. It’s not just about the Christmas pudding, Quality Street and alcohol. The supermarkets are awash with delicious seasonal produce at this time of year. You can control what goes on you plate.

The Christmas turkey is the festive meat of choice for so many. This lean, protein packed meat is fantastic for us, a great source of iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. Also rich in tryptophan which may help support serotonin production, so good for our brains and a good nights sleep. So go ahead and enjoy!

Eat seasonally! No Christmas passes me by without purchasing a lot of Brussel sprouts! Did you know that as a fantastic source of fibre you’ll find about 16% of your daily need in a cupful of cooked Brussel sprouts? Fibre is important for balancing our cholesterol levels, regulating bowels and can help stabilize blood sugar and keep us feeling fuller for longer. Sprouts are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, B6, C and K, folate and manganese. So all hail the humble sprout and make it your vegetable of choice this December.

Chocolate: If you feel the need then reach for the dark chocolate, besides being super yummy it does have its health benefits. Rich in flavanols, dark chocolate (in moderation of course) can help guard the body against conditions such as heart disease and is also packed with iron, magnesium and manganese. Just don’t have too much in the evening as it also contains caffeine, which may affect your sleep.

Clementine’s: I used to always get one of these in my stocking and it warms my heart when I see the boxes and bags of them lined up in the supermarkets at this time of year. They are a great source of fibre and water and so can really aid with digestive health. One clementine has most of your daily vitamin C needs and helps keep your immunity boosted – perfect for staving off that nasty common cold. They also can help you maintain good blood pressure: packed with potassium and a low content of sodium, so may gently support healthy blood pressure… (Make sure you stock up before the family descend!)

Get some exercise: It’s a time of year where the majority of people are on holiday and spend it with friends and family, so why not encourage everyone off the sofa and out for a walk in the crisp Christmas air. You’ll all feel the benefits – walking is easy, free and best of all studies show regular walking improves fitness and reduces your risk of heart disease!

Try something new! It’s easier than ever to make healthier versions of treats and snack and, fibre packed goodies. Why not try out my spiced apple cake? You can find the recipe over on my website HERE

Me-time: it’s also easy to get stressed and overwhelmed at Christmas – people to cook for, buy presents for, entertain and host. Stress can leave us reaching for the easy to eat on the go sugary nasties… Make sure you set aside some time for yourself during the festive period: a relaxing bath, reading a book, half an hour of yoga or even starting each day with 5 minutes of meditation. It will do wonders for you and help you keep on track of positive eating. If all else fails ask Father Christmas for an afternoon at the spa!

So on Christmas day, I certainly will be enjoying my Christmas pudding and a few chocolates (and they won’t be the low sugar variety!) But then I’ll be back to my usual eating regime, which is keeping my food as healthy as I can at least 85% of the time…. and enjoying my red wine and dark chocolate when I fancy it!

As a last thought, why not look to sign up to my 30 day sugar detox course now? Perfect for starting in January after an indulgent Christmas and a great start to your year by making a move to eat well for life.

Happy Christmas all from Catherine Jeans – The Family Nutrition Expert