Christmas is often a time consumers forgo diets and healthy eating patterns to splurge and indulge in usually forbidden foods. However, food choices made over the holidays can affect the way you feel when you want to enjoy the time. Migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux and arthritis pain can flare up if you eat too much of the wrong foods, and unrestrained eating can sabotage a healthy diet.
Colorful fruit bowls can add a festive flair to any Christmas setting and make for healthy side dishes that everyone can enjoy without blowing a diet or creating painful symptoms. Fresh fruit, a treat in many areas of the country in the summer, can be served in salads, mixed with nuts and grains and used for appetizers.
Fruit is an excellent accompaniment to baked pork chops or a roasted ham. Bake fruit sprinkled lightly with brown sugar for desserts. Fresh fruit helps maintain blood sugar levels, promotes regularity and keeps the calorie count low. Apples, cranberries, oranges and grapes work well as side dishes for pork and ham.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health report the average adult gains 500 gram over the holidays. Throughout adulthood, those grams add up and can result in a 10 to 15kg overage by the time the adult turns 40. The researchers advise consumers to serve healthy vegetables for Christmas meals; they’re filling and will help to avoid high-fat options. Serve a large salad prior to the main meal to suppress the appetite. Fill the salad with asparagus, cherry tomatoes, colorful peppers, dark greens and walnuts for a festive beginning to the meal. Splurge on an expensive vinaigrette to avoid cream-based dressings that add fat and calories.
Roast chicken, a traditional Christmas mainstay, provides a healthy option for the main course. Chicken is high in protein and the chicken breasts are lower in fat than beef or lamb and contain fewer calories. While the crispy skin from the chicken may be flavorful, skip it to save the highest amount of fat. Serve skinless chicken breast with gravy made with water and flour, avoiding fat drippings.
Roast potatoes in large chunks to provide the carbohydrates needed for energy. Larger chunks of potatoes soak up less fat and can make a great side dish when roasted in light olive oil and sprinkled with herbs and spices. Broil or grill vegetables to round out the plate.