During the Christmas period it becomes easy to give in to temptation and consume any number of foods that would not constitute our recommended daily diet.
It is possible, however, to indulge in traditional Christmas foods and eat in a healthy and controlled manner.
This year, whilst sitting down to the table for Christmas lunch or dinner, look for options with a higher nutritional value. Not all dishes will have been cooked and prepared equally, so it’s important to plate up those which will benefit you and your body.
Below are some foods which you will find on almost any Christmas table, which prove to be better options when it comes to what you eat on Christmas Day.
Whilst it’s true that vegetables subjected to an intense heat can alter their nutritional profile and compromise some nutrients, it’s also true that it can boost others. Roasting tomatoes, for example, increases levels of lycopene (a cancer fighting antioxidant) and roasted carrots have a higher level of carotenoids which is rich in antioxidants.
Essentially, vegetables are vegetables, whichever way they have been cooked. They offer fibre and are filling without too many calories. Avoid adding excess oil or salt or anything with an added sauce (such as cheese or white sauce).
Turkey remains one of the most traditional meats to serve at Christmas, yet is also one of the healthiest options. Turkey is a lean, low-GI meat which can also aid in maintaining steady insulin levels. It also contains the amino acid ‘tryptophan’ which in turn produces serotonin (a chemical which is believed to affect our mood and cyclic body processes). Turkey has also been shown to offer a good source of selenium which is essential for our thyroid hormone metabolism.
Whilst it’s not the most traditional of Christmas foods, lobster and other seafood options are becoming commonplace within Australia as they are a fitting accompaniment to a warm Summer’s day.
Lobster, though considered a luxury, is surprisingly low in calories and contains a significant amount of protein which we need for healthy growth and development.
Lobster also contains a negligible amount of fat or carbohydrates. It does promise large amounts of B vitamins for a healthy metabolism and skin, as well as phosphorous, potassium, zinc and magnesium which contribute to bone health, energy, glucose regulation and healthy cell function.
As always, lobster should be eaten in moderation as it does also contain high amounts of cholesterol and sodium. However, as a treat during the holiday period, it promises to be an option rich in vitamin and minerals.
Whilst the best dessert you could opt for would be a fresh fruit salad with a dollop of natural yoghurt, Christmas is a time to indulge just a little. If you wish to celebrate with a more traditional dessert, we recommend a modest portion of Christmas pudding.
Being wary of the sugars and syrups contained within the dessert, there are also ingredients which are beneficial to your body.
Common dried fruits such as sultanas and raisins provides potassium, which aids in minimising high blood pressure, and iron, whilst currants are believed to contain up to 4 times the amount of vitamin C than oranges.
Nuts within the pudding also nourish the body with healthy fats and the likes of vitamin E.
And finally, the all-important mixed spice which is responsible for the overall flavour contains cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger. These spices can work to prevent the attacks of food-poisoning bugs such as salmonella and E-coli. Ginger is also effective in reducing nausea and cinnamon aids in the lowering of blood pressure and improving insulin production.
As always, moderation is key. Remain wary of your portion size during the festive season, yet allow yourself to enjoy what you are eating.
Main Image Credit: Foodiful