People always worry about eating healthily at Christmas, and some people just write off the whole month and think about being healthy again sometime in late January.
I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t need to be that way!
Eating healthily is not about deprivation! It’s about eating high quality, nutrient dense and delicious foods.
Here are 12 Christmas foods to eat in abundance!
I love a cheese platter, and there is something very Christmassy about brie and camembert. These soft cheeses are high in a vitamin called Vitamin K2, which is really lacking in modern diets. Other sources are beef liver and natto (fermented soybeans), and we don’t eat much of these foods! Vitamin K2 is good to prevent wrinkles, and for the kids, it is good for their brains! It acts as an antioxidant in the brain, alongside glutathione (read more about glutathione here), so it reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. Don’t ruin a good cheese with cheaply processed crackers. Make your own seed crackers like this these ones, or buy crackers that are made from seeds only (not the ones with a token 2% seeds so they can put a seed claim on the front of the packet).
Another platter favourite is pâté . Pâté is usually made from liver, and liver is a powerhouse of nutrition. I often recommend liver for kids, as it is a really nutrient dense food, so they don’t need to eat much to get the benefit. Parents often wrinkle their nose at the idea of liver, until I remind them of pâté ! It is so easy to make at home, and when you do you can use organic livers and organic butter. The shop bought stuff (even the premium brands) are often made with cheap fat like canola, and non- organic liver. The liver is the organ in the body that detoxifies, so you really need to be eating organic liver.
Turkey is a great source of protein. One of the amino acids found in turkey is called tryptophan, and it is really good for sleep. It is so good for sleep, I often prescribe it as a supplement for insomniac kids! Of course, it is always better to get nutrients from food, so give your children lots of turkey and see if they sleep well.
Forget about the soggy Brussel sprouts you were served up as a kid. Braise them in a pan with bacon and garlic, and it’s a completely different experience. Brussel sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, which means they are very good at detoxifying. Kids need to detoxify their livers and get rid of medications, pesticides, environmental pollution. So load them up with Brussel sprouts on Christmas day
Another nutrient a lot of Australians are deficient in is iodine. Iodine deficiency leads to lower IQ. Seafood is a great way to get an iodine hit, but make sure your seafood is coming from clean water, not polluted waters, and is sustainably sourced. Oysters are a great source of the nutrient zinc. Lots of kids are deficient in zinc, especially fussy eaters, as not having enough zinc means you can’t taste as well. Of course, getting a fussy eater to eat an oyster is not necessarily going to be easy!
Don’t reach for the paddle pops when you can eat real, tropical summer fruit instead. Make your own slushies, ice blocks, sorbet or chia puddings. Mango is high in sugar, but you only eat them seasonally so don’t worry too much about it. They are still lower in sugar than any other dessert or lolly, and they contain lots of great nutrients and fibre.
Cherries are synonymous with Christmas in Australia, which is good, as they help to balance out some over indulgences! Lots of people will get an attack of gout at Christmas because of the rich food, and eating cherries help reduce the symptoms of gout. They do this by reducing uric acid in the body. Even in people without gout, cherries help reduce inflammation in the body, and inflammation is associated with many diseases, including Autism and ADHD.
Strictly speaking, kombucha is not a Christmas food, however, it is a great way to reduce alcohol consumption. Instead of the ritual of popping a bottle of bubbles and sipping with friends, try opening a bottle of kombucha and drinking it from a champagne glass. You can drink as much as you like without getting tipsy! Kombucha is full of good bacteria, which is great for your gut health. If you haven’t had it before, don’t go crazy the first time you have it as all those good bacteria can cause a bit of excitement in your guts. Build up gradually until you are used to it. Kombucha is made from tea, therefore it contains caffeine, so I don’t recommend it for kids. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could make mulled wine from Kombucha. Heating the kombucha will destroy much of the good bacteria, but it is still better for you than wine! Try adding lots of anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, ginger and cloves.
Sorry, I don’t mean normal gingerbread. I mean paleo gingerbread, made with lots of healthy nuts and spices. Lots of children are deficient in essential fatty acids, which affects their brain health. Eating nuts is really important to get more essential fatty acids in their diet, and because school is a nut free zone, it’s good to indulge at home to prevent sensitivity developing. Check out my recipe here.
Cranberries go great with turkey, but normal cranberry sauce is made with a lot of sugar, as it is such a tart fruit. If you can get your hands on some fresh cranberries, try making a stuffing with them and a natural sweetener. Cranberries are great for people who are prone to urinary tract infections as they stop the bacteria sticking to the bladder. Be careful when you buy cranberries, as quite often they will be sugar infused.
Pineapple is also very good at reducing inflammation, but only fresh pineapple, not tinned. Eating about a cup a day will help reduce inflammation so useful for arthritis, and other conditions associated with inflammation, such as autism and ADHD
One of the great things about holidays is that you have more time to make breakfast, and don’t have to rely on quick fixes. We love smoked salmon, and try to buy one that has very few ingredients. It is a good source of protein and contains lots of omega 3 fatty acids. Salmon has been called the edible antidepressant as these omega 3 fatty acids are so good for your mood. It is real brain food, and studies have shown that omega 3 can help control ADHD symptoms as effectively as Ritalin. You would need more than a few breakfasts of smoked salmon to get an effect, but it certainly won’t hurt!