FESTIVE FOOD Enjoy preparing and eating festive food that’s full of avour and goodness.
Christmas is a time to indulge in avours that evoke happiness and fond memories. Lift your spirits by treating yourself to good mood food this festive season
The words ‘healthy’ and ‘Christmas’ are perhaps a little oxymoronic. After polishing o the nal slice of a chocolate orange, stuffing a mince pie in each cheek and glugging one more glass of your favourite tipple, it’s almost mandatory to sink into Christmas afternoon with a full belly and fall asleep in front of endless TV specials. But what if, with a few tweaks to the menu, indulgence could actually boost your energy enough for another rendition of ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’ and a round of family charades?
“There are plenty of ways to indulge without sending your mind and body into disarray.”
We all know that eating foods with a high sugar, fat and salt content is bad for our physical health. However, several new studies have also associated sugar with various side effects on our mental health and wellbeing. Long-term research by University College London has discovered a link between consumption of sugar and depression, and eating lots of sugar also a ects our moods and energy in the short-term, too – not really what you want on Christmas Day.
“Eating too much sugar raises blood glucose levels, causing your pancreas to release insulin to feed the sugar to your cells,” explains dietician and TV presenter, Lucy Jones (@FoodWhispererRD). This will give you a quick boost in energy that’s usually followed by a slump, making it harder to maintain your energy levels and mood.
As well as sugar, lots of salty snacks and alcoholic drinks around Christmas time can meddle with our moods by increasing dehydration. “Being both low in blood glucose and dehydrated are two quick ways to feel exhausted and low,” says Lucy. She advises us to “try spreading alcohol out and generally avoid having more than two drinks in a day. Drink plenty of water – ideally between alcoholic drinks – and have something to eat as this slows down the absorption of alcohol.”
Keeping to regular meal patterns and staying hydrated is the simplest way to maintain our energy and moods. Making the right food choices can help. “Focus on increasing healthy fats and bre, reducing re ned carbohydrates where you can,” suggests Lucy. You may be tempted by the health bene ts claimed by ‘natural’ sugars, but Lucy explains that “sugar
is sugar and your body doesn’t know if it came from an organic coconut blossom from some tropical location or not. It breaks it down just the same.”
But you don’t have to immediately eschew your Christmas treats – there are plenty of ways to indulge without sending your mind and body into disarray. One of the best ways to reduce your sugar intake is by making your own versions, so you know exactly what is going in them – plus you get to lick the bowl! Read on for our top picks of healthy Christmas snacks to make at home – both sweet and savoury – from chefs, nutritionists and foodie bloggers.
to a Treat yourself
ball chocolatey bliss with omega goodness
Cookies that hide an almond