Let’s face it, we’re going to be tempted to over-indulge over the Christmas period. A lot.
Making smart food choices is crucial to any healthy diet, and that doesn’t stop during seasonal festivities, but while we may pay lots of attention to what we eat, it’s just as important to consider HOW we eat.
When we eat or drink too much or make bad food choices, it’s essential that we don’t beat ourselves up about it. It’s not the end of the world, and you mustn’t feel too guilty. If you find yourself eating compulsively, in secret or when bored, or feelings of guilt overwhelm you before, during or after less healthy meals you may be an emotional eater.
Coming to terms with the underlying emotional reasons for bad eating habits allows you to develop a better relationship with food and start practicing some more healthy ways to deal with your emotional needs. Techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique and Percussive Suggestion Technique (described in the book 7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating) are simple starting points for anyone wanting to help themselves, and you may be able to resolve problems you’ve struggled with for years in a matter of minutes.
That doesn’t mean you can go ahead and eat the entire tin of Celebrations without feeling guilty, though. Sorry!
The most recent book on The Zone Diet (The Mediterranean Zone by Dr Barry Sears) offers a good solution so you can enjoy a wide range of food without having to count calories and worry what is and what isn’t ‘allowed’. It combines all the benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet with the scientifically formulated and tested ‘Zone’ approach, with meal plans and recipes to make it easy.
Fill your plate with one third low-fat protein (skinless turkey, chicken, duck or goose breast is perfect) and two thirds colourful carbohydrates, non-starchy vegetables and small amounts of fruit. Avoiding white and starchy carbohydrates as much as possible lowers the glycaemic load of your meal and balances your blood sugar for the next five hours. The polyphenols found in colourful carbohydrates support a healthy immune and digestive system, so you’ll feel less hungry, digest food more efficiently and optimise organ function and hormone balance.
Don’t worry if you cave in at the sight of crispy roast potatoes though…you’re only one meal away from getting back in The Zone. The longer you can stay in The Zone, the better position you’ll be in to bounce back from those inevitable moments of indulgence that make Christmas so merry. And remember, red wine contains 10 times more polyphenols than white wine, so enjoy responsibly!
Channel your Christmas Caveman
Enjoy a paleo Christmas without missing out. Eve Gilmore has come up with hundreds of clever hacks to replace some of the most common Christmas treats that are usually off the menu for modern cavemen (and women!). Replace yoghurt, cheese and cream with coconut based recipes, bake your own paleo bread, cakes, pies…and even pizzas. Here’s one dairy-free, paleo-friendly recipe from her book, The Urban Caveman, that may help you stay paleo when other cavemen come crashing back to the 21st Century diet.
Paleo Yorkshire Pudding
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbs melted butter or ghee plus extra for the tin
- 300 ml/11 fl oz coconut milk
- 110 ml/4 fl oz beef stock
- 1 tbs tamari or coconut soy-sauce substitute
- 1 dsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 10 g/½ oz coconut flour, sifted
- 20 g/¾ oz coconut powder
- 20 g/¾ oz egg-white protein powder
Blend the eggs, ghee or butter, coconut milk, stock and tamari in a food processor. Mix the baking powder, seasoning, and xanthan gum into the coconut flour, coconut powder, and egg-white protein powder and add to the food processor, blending well. Keep until ready to cook. If making the day before keep overnight in the fridge.
To cook the Yorkshire pudding put the extra fat in a square or rectangular roasting tin and place in the oven to get hot. Once sizzling hot, pour the batter in and return to the oven for about 25 minutes, turning the temperature down to 170ºC/325ºF/GM 3 after 10 minutes. Cook until browned (about 15 minutes).
Christmas Feast, Christmas Fast
If you really want to get your body firing on all cylinders to minimise the impact of the inevitable Christmas treats, you might try fasting. Max Tuck, aka The Raw Food Scientist, advises one fasting day a week to rest the digestive system (although insulin-dependent diabetics, children, those more than 10 pounds underweight and pregnant women should seek medical advice, and are advised to avoid fasting altogether). In her book The Whole Body Solution, Tuck offers this recipe for a tasty, vitamin and mineral rich soup to have on a fast day.
- Spinach, celery, cucumber, lemon juice, parsley, basil, coriander leaf and avocado as a base.
- Add 1-2 cups of green juice (celery, cucumber, pea shoots & sunflower greens) depending on desired consistency (thick soup or runny soup).
- Add lots of crushed garlic for extra detox.
- Blend well in a good blender or liquidiser. Add cayenne and ginger for additional warmth if desired.
- Enjoy on fasting day at about 5:30pm, or for any evening meal.
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