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

In the Moment - - Contents - Words: Jen Shaw

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

sur­prise!

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