Matt Lovell’s tips for a guilt free Christmas
We all find comfort foods give us an instant hit of pleasure. They are tasty, sustaining, filling – orgasmic, even. So how can they possibly be healthy? One of the things that tells your brain it really likes this stuff (and wants more, more, more of it) is the evil grouping of fat, sugar and salt contained within.
In recent studies it has been shown to be more addictive than crack cocaine – well, it works on similar pathways, anyway. So is it possible to examine the food groups we need and figure out which grub can be good for us while still offering a treat?
How could these even begin to be healthy?
One of the things which tells our brains it’s really, really liking this stuff and more, more, more is the evil grouping of fat, sugar and salt which in recent studies has been shown to be more addicting than crack cocaine…. Well it works on similar pathways anyway.
So how can we look through the areas we need and learn which foods can be good for us whilst still providing adequate levels of comfort?
One easy way to create a comforting food and keeping sugars low is to use a healthy sweetener like stevia or xylitol. These naturally derived sweeteners provide a lovely taste at a fraction of the calories and with none of the probably negative effects of aspartame and other additive sweeteners added to soft and sports drinks to make us take more of them.
Why add sweeteners to a sports drink in the 1st place?
Oh so more general public become addicted to them…..
Second tip is to just eat the comfort foods but just eat much less of them. You’ll enjoy it more if you know there’s not that much to go around and each little nibble will be super pleasurable. A couple of foods, which are comfort food, are also just plain old good for you. Dark chocolate and whey protein ice cream. Just imagine sitting down to a vanilla whey protein ice cream with dark chocolate shavings on top and just not being guilty AT ALL! In fact a perfect whey to recover.
Pimping your pizza is also a healthy way to enjoy a classic comfort food – simply add loads more protein and vegetable toppings keeping to a nice thin based pizza and you have a higher protein to carb ratio – then just eat half instead of the whole pizza and you are home and dry. Fill up on salad instead.
Finally a few healthy ways and tips to enjoy Christmas foods some of which are just plain good for you include;
Sprouts – what an excellent vegetables to fill up on, loaded with fibre and powerful anti-oxidants this will help speed detoxification after making merry. For me why not include these more throughout the year they go really well in a Thai coconut curry.
Roast Potatoes – these are an essential part of the christmas plate, oven roasted in garlic, onions and pepper corns you can get away with these energy dense starchy carbohydrates. Deep fried in goose fat they are delicious but not super healthy!
Cranberry Sauce – cranberry are a super food and I think it’s worth making this sauce yourself. It only takes a little while, you can use less sugar or molasses for a different flavour and extra nutrients.
Mince Pies – this is an area I’d personally avoid and have the pudding instead. A mince pie and cream could pack 500+ calories.
Christmas Pud – can actually be healthy and I also advocate a home made one. I’m actually thinking of adding back in some meat to the recipe which was taken out by George I in 1714 at the time of it’s revival. The currants are a good source of vitamin C.
Bucks Fizz – the orange juice decreases the alcohol content and provides some vitamin C. A good way to ease into festivities if you’ve had a merry xmas eve. It does also increase the sugar content though.
Mulled Wine – the spices in the mulled wine are excellent for you. Heating the mixture gets rid of some of the alcohol content.
Turkey is an excellent grade A source of protein, containing slightly less fat than chicken I wouldn’t just reserve it for Christmas! It also has high levels of trytophan an amino acids which helps build serotonin the sleepy hormone.