A simple equation pops into my mind when putting a few words together: Christmas + Dinner = Over-indulgence. Perhaps we could consider the therapeutic aspect and earthy nourishment that food at Christmas time could bring us. How to gain the greatest benefits without compromising the enjoyment of the celebrations? And hence change the equation to Christmas + Dinner = Healthy. It is a matter of perspective, quantity and focus. Feast mindfully on the healthy foods, be moderate with the least healthy ones. Solving equations is about maintaining balance in Maths or in Life.
Healthy Christmas Dinner Highlights…
Turkey for mood and rest! As a classic traditional Christmas staple, turkey is rich in the essential amino acid L-Tryptophan. It is not only important for the protein synthesis in your body but it is also the precursor of serotonin, a key neurotransmitter implicated mood regulation. Serotonin is also a precursor for melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland. Melatonin regulates sleep and wake cycle and influence gut motility and immune system (Richard et al., 2009).
In other words, enjoy your Turkey for feel good effect. Complementing with roasted or steamed root vegetables – high in carbohydrates may enhance absorption through the blood brain barrier – the semi-permeable and protective membrane of your brain. So go for colourful Squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots or traditional parsnips.
Stuffing – Think Nuts There are endless stuffing variations that can easily be adapted for Carnivorous, Vegetarians or Vegans. Think nuts. They are rich in high quality vegetable protein, fibre, and minerals. For instance, Pistachios and almonds may contribute to good gut bacteria (Ukhanova et al., 2014); Chestnuts also potentially play a protective role to ensure beneficial bacteria travel unaffected through the digestive tract (Blaiotta G et al., 2013). Chestnuts, a popular ingredient are tasty and have a great texture. They are a source of vitamin B and E as well as minerals and fibre (Wani IA et al., 2017).
Nut roasts are great alternatives for vegans. For inspiration, try scrumptious recipes involving cauliflower and chestnuts stuffing (hotforfoodblog.com).
Fall in Love with Brussels sprouts and other cabbages… Often unloved, Brussels sprouts are actually highly nutritious. Rich in phytochemicals, they induce detoxification (Robins MG et al., 2011) and protects against oxidative stress in mice (Kim JK et al, 2013). Do not wait for January for supporting your body detoxification. If you really won’t do Brussels sprouts, then go for other members of the cabbage family (Kale, Cauliflower, Cabbages)
Sophie Godwin at BBC Food (bbcfood.com) suggests a great Festive Red Cabbage recipe: spiced with coriander sweeten with maple syrup - a great prebiotic ie feeding good bacteria and apples for added fiber, flavor and protective compounds. I would remove the maple syrup and wine if you are sensitive to or watching your sugar and sulfite/ or alcohol.
Eat mindfully and enjoy!
Amina is a Registered Craniosacral Therapist and Nutritional Therapist. She has always been passionate about complementary medicines. When she used to work in a highly demanding corporate environment, complementary medicines gave her resources to deal with the stressful nature of balancing work and life demands. She is on the board of Made In Hackney, a local community kitchen promoting affordable food good for people and the planet.
To book a treatment with Amina and end the year on a high email email@example.com