Just because it’s the silly season, doesn’t mean your eating habits have to go completely dotty also. Here are some clever Christmas feasting tips to ensure you reap the joy - but not the extra jiggle - this holiday season!
Meg Thompson, Naturopath, Holistic Nutritionist and creator of MyWholeFoodRomance talks us through the healthy choices in pre-lunch snacks, cocktail party bite-size pieces and why a mindful approach is the most important thing to muster up coming into December.
Have a Merry and Mindful Christmas:
When we see friends, celebrate and relax, it’s easy to let a few extra bites of finger food slip through stalls. “We relax, let our hair down, and go for that second or third helping,” notes Meg. “But,” she is quick to add, “I think that one of the best things about Christmas is the food. Food, especially on an occasion like Christmas day, gives us the opportunity to connect with others, sit, talk, laugh, tell stories, and all over food that has been made with love.” The key here is not to deprive yourself, but be mindful of what you are putting in your mouth, she notes.
Here are some tips to enjoying, not overdoing, Christmas eating -
1. “I would say enjoy yourself and your food, but with respect,” says Meg. This includes chewing food. “Don’t rush as it takes around 20 minutes for our tummies to tell our brain that we are full,” she adds.
2. Choose to eat something because you really want it, not just because it’s there.
3. Choose your occasions. “It is perhaps expected to overindulge on Christmas Day, but don’t give yourself that luxury for the whole of December party season.”
4. If you are reaching for your sixth sausage roll, grab a glass of water instead. Sometimes you may just need something to do with your hands!
Festive Food To Feed Your Day:
If you know you have a big Christmas lunch or dinner on, don’t skimp on the other meals, or you will just be ravenous by the time all that food comes out! Here are some healthy options for ‘normal’ meals:
Breakfast: “It’s great to start the day off with a nourishing breakfast. A smoothie is a nice quick and easy option that can pack in loads of nutrition,” says Meg. “If you have a little more time, eggs any way are another great option. A little brew of warm lemon and ginger water will wake up your digestion and also give your liver a little love.”
Lunch/Dinner: Meg advises you choose to include something with a good amount of protein - meat, eggs, nuts and seeds, legumes, dairy – at lunch to set yourself up for a satiated afternoon and prevent yourself from feeling hungry an hour later. “Including healthy fats will help here too,” she adds. If you have a big Christmas lunch, drink plenty of water at dinner time if you feel you need to ingest something, and keep any dinner light, lean and as green as possible!
Bite Size Cocktail Party Tips:
Cocktail parties are a breeding ground for extra kilos. Don’t be fooled by tiny food as it can contain mega calories. Here are some tips to prep for that cocktail party:
- Have a pre-snack that is healthy. Even if it’s a boiled egg, carrots and homemade hummus or avocado on rye bread or corn cakes, it may not be a ‘full’ meal, but it will help you avoid feeling too hungry when you get to the party.
- Choose food options that are high in protein. “This will help to keep your blood sugar stable,” says Meg. Also, foods that contain healthy fats will ensure you feel fuller for longer.
- “If available, grab a plate and put your selected canapés together on the one plate and eat from that,” says Meg. “Often with finger food we snack all night but feel as though we have eaten very little. Putting it together on a plate allows your mind to recognize that you are indeed eating a plate of food, and so you don’t need to keep eating everything that passes by.”
- Limit the fried and super salty choices, and go for the ‘greener’ options available.
Cheers To That!
“Vodka and soda with fresh lemon or lime has to be my pick for a low sugar alcohol alternative to a cocktail,” says Meg. “My preferred mocktails are anything full of herbs – particularly mint, like a virgin mojito – yum! I also love Virgin Marys (or bloody ones), especially when they are served with a celery stick to much on!”
Christmas Day Diet Options:
Want to watch what you eat – and serve – on December 25? Too easy. Here are the essential healthy options.
Instead of: Pre-lunch chips and nuts
Serve: Spiced nut mix, homemade (or good quality store bought) or dips with fancy crackers and crudités, marinated olives or baked falafels as nibbles.
Instead of: Roast/Pork
Serve: Roast Duck is a lovely alternative, notes Meg. “I love a terrine or a nut roast as a vegetarian option,” she adds.
Instead of: Dense Fruit Cake
Serve: A fruit crumble to serve with the custard is a lovely, warm weather option, says Meg. Try the No Bake Spiced Carrot Cake as another great idea.
Instead of: Pavlova
Serve: Meg enthuses that there is no equal option to the good old pavlova, but making it with whipped coconut cream is a healthier version instead of cream. “Serve it as an ‘Eton Mess’ style of dish with the cream served in a bowl with loads of berries, passionfruit, banana if you like, and some crumbled pieces of meringue.”
Instead of: Lollies
Serve: Fruit or “if you are desperate for that chewy lolly experience, how about these fruit strips?”
Bake with Better Ingredients:
Is it your turn to do the dessert? Here are some healthy ingredient options to satiate the sweet tooth!
Replace Oil with Coconut oil or ghee. These are the best options for high heat cooking, notes Meg. “Otherwise extra virgin olive oil is perfect for salads or to add after cooking.”
Replace Sugar with Maple Syrup, honey, fruit, or when only sugar will do in certain recipes use Rapadura sugar. “This is organically produced and maintains much of its natural minerals,” says Meg.
Replace Butter with organic butter, or ghee
Replace Milk with full fat, organic, “or for a dairy alternative nut milk or coconut milk,” says Meg.
1.Eat only good quality treats! “Don’t waste it on a packet of chips, soft drink,” urges Meg. “Choose a beautiful decadent piece of cake and share it with someone or buy great cheese and enjoy it in small amounts.”
2. Don’t eat it just because it’s there – do you really want it?
3. Donate or re-gift unwanted boxed biscuits, chocolates or sweets.
4. Try to be prepared. “Quick and easy can be healthy and delicious too!” assures Meg. “Stock your pantry and fridge with great quality, healthy food that is appealing to you. This way when you’re hungry you are less likely to reach a crappy option.” Meg’s staples are a great hummus, plenty of veg to cut and eat, delicious summer fruit, crackers, boiled eggs ready to eat, almonds, “and if I’m lucky, falafels!”