Christmas food choices
Many of us will have already eaten a Christmas dinner or two, complete with a starter, Christmas pudding with cream or brandy butter and perhaps mince pies, cheese, and biscuits and if we are lucky, some after-dinner chocolates…and don’t forget the bread roll with butter on the side.
We may also have partaken in a number of alcohol-fuelled nights out – all in the name of celebrating the party season…more on this later in the week.
Christmas is known as a time of excess, where we feel that we are able to eat too much and justify it by promising to change our ways in the new year.
But there are ways that we can help to support our gut through the Christmas food season, so we enter the new year minus the bloated feeling – and making healthier food choices is a great starting point.
Healthy Christmas food swaps
- Stock up on vegetables – eat all the vegetables on your plate first to ensure you are not too full by the time you get around to eating them. If you plan to leave anything, make it the potatoes, pigs in blankets and/or some of the meat. Try and eat as wide a variety of vegetables as possible and whilst sprouts are famous for causing a few wind problems, they are great for supporting our gut and liver.
- Include lots of brightly coloured fruit in place of reaching for the chocolates – tangerines and satsumas are particularly seasonal and help to provide vitamin C, but don’t forget about other fruits (apples, pears, berries, melon, kiwi, grapefruit, oranges).
- Choose nuts over crisps – particularly shelled pistachios or monkey nuts (peanuts in shells) that take time to ‘unwrap’ individually.
- Choose the healthiest starter on the menu – vegetable soup (without bread) or a salad (traditional prawn cocktail still appears regularly on Christmas menus – be sure to eat the lettuce) are both a good choice.
- Pass on the pudding or choose fruit salad or a dessert that contains fruit (crumble, pie, cheesecake) and replace brandy butter and cream with half-fat crème fraiche.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day – at least 8 glasses each day and more if you are drinking alcohol.
- Have herbal tea after dinner instead of coffee – a mint tea can replace the after-dinner mints and is great for supporting digestion – or try ginger, fennel or camomile, which can all help soothe the gut.
And the following tips can help to support digestion generally and to ensure that we avoid much of the Christmas bloat.
Avoiding that over-full feeling
- Stick to only one big meal a day – try to resist the temptation to tuck into an enormous buffet tea a few hours after a huge lunch.
- Take time when eating, chew your food properly and try to enjoy each mouthful and notice when you are getting full.
- Be aware of portion size – it is tempting to pile our plate as high as possible, but you can always have a second helping if you are still hungry after the first (and you probably won’t be!).
- Try and include some exercise every day, particularly if you know you are going out and will be eating a big meal. 20-30 minutes of activity is ample and can help keep your gut functioning properly. Alternatively, try some gut supporting yoga moves and/or stretching. Or get outside with the family and play a ball game, throw a frisbee or set up an inter-family race competition.
- Include gut supporting supplements such as calcium, digestive enzymes and friendly bacteria (probiotics) alongside each meal.
So now you can head into the new year feeling healthier and lighter.
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ProVen Probiotics, Unit 2 Christchurch Road, Baglan Industrial Park, Port Talbot, SA12 7DJ. Tel: 01639 825107