“Enjoying healthy Christmas food“
It almost seems like an oxymoron to be considering healthy Christmas food, but it really can be done with a little forward planning. If you’re living a healthy lifestyle and other members of your family are not, Christmas can be a dreaded time of year. You might feel that you have to justify your healthy Christmas food choices, you might feel judged, or worse still, you might feel alienated. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it definitely isn’t up to us to get evangelical. A little acceptance goes a long way.
If you are hosting the big day yourself, it’s going to be a lot easier to eat healthy Christmas food; after all, you can just prepare what you enjoy, and you’ll probably find that your guests will love it too. I have done this on many occasions, and I can safely say that no one misses the turkey, or that dreadful heavy feeling after too many mince pies or glasses of wine. However, if you’ve been invited to spend the day with friends or family, the tendency is to want to fit in. So what can you do?
1. Offer to bring a starter/appetiser
You could take a large mixed salad, incorporating lots of dark green leaves, herbs, some chopped raw vegetables such as red peppers and cucumber, and decorate it with some exotic vegetable strips. Very simple, very healthy Christmas food, and generally very well received.
2. Bring some side dishes
A traditional meal is not just about the turkey. For a modern take on healthy Christmas food, why not make up some delicious side dishes, such as a spicy sprouted sunflower or pistachio pâté, some marinated and dehydrated mushrooms, or, for example, fiery sweet potatoes, the recipe for which can be found in my book The Whole Body Solution. These usually go down a storm, regardless of what they are paired with. If you really are sticking to your guns and going for a fully raw/vegan Christmas dinner, there you have it – a big salad with lots of side dishes, and you’re sorted.
3. Bring a dessert (or 3!)
Here’s your opportunity to get really creative. Without feeling as if you are taking over, offer to bring a dessert. After all, not everyone actually likes Christmas pudding. Whilst some raw desserts could not really be described as healthy Christmas food, they are usually far better than the cooked and processed, sugar and fat-laden alternatives we are faced with. And they taste a lot better.
4. To drink or not to drink
Many people interested in eating healthy Christmas food will still drink alcohol. It all comes down to personal choice. If, like me, you are alcohol-free, don’t feel obliged to have some just to “fit in”. I recommend politely declining it, rather than making a big scene about its damaging effects. Remember about not being evangelical? Alternatives to go with your healthy Christmas meal would be plain water, or an alcohol-free fruit punch. Remember though that it isn’t actually ideal to consume liquids with your food. They are better taken half an hour before, or from one hour after, eating.
5. Many hands…
Planning Christmas food, healthy or otherwise, takes a lot of time and effort. By offering to bring some dishes with you, your host will probably be breathing a huge sigh of relief. Less preparation needed, even if they do enjoy the process. A task shared is a task halved. Win-win!
6. Chill out
Really, let’s get it all into perspective. Even if you’re not able to have the healthy Christmas food that you originally planned, it isn’t a total disaster. After all, it is only one day. It is what we do consistently that makes the difference (see my blog “Consistency is the Key” here). Excessively stressing about what you are going to eat for a day could actually generate more damage in the body than one less-than-optimal meal might do. Stress is harmful to the adrenal glands, to your bone health (see Top 10 Raw Food Tips for Osteoporosis for more), to your cardiovascular system and to your immune system (see The Whole Body Solution for more). Accept that someone has prepared your Christmas meal for you with love and attention; let go of external stressors and enjoy the day.