Diet starts Monday?
Diet starts Monday?
Can Christmas day food be healthy?
It’s Christmas time again: the time of over indulgence, hangovers and the inevitable weight gain. Without wishing to put a downer on the festive season jollities, it doesn’t have to be too unhealthy a time.
Believe it or not most of the food we eat on Christmas day is actually good for you; it’s how you eat it and the excessive amounts that we in the rich western world force upon ourselves. A sensible sized plate of food and taking it easy on the booze can have its benefits.
Turkey; a low fat bird providing a source of lean protein, B vitamins, selenium, zinc, niacin, choline and the amino acid tryptophan (good for sleep). The white meat is lower in fat in comparison to the brown and by taking the skin off after cooking you can save a good 40 calories (perfect if you are watching that waist line). Avoid the temptation to fill it with butter under the skin and a ton of sausage and chestnut stuffing which will be full of fat. Make a stuffing of cranberries, chestnut and orange, lower in calories and full of flavour.
Personally I bone out the legs and stuff them, wrap them in foil and bake them letting the fat run out at the end of cooking. Easy to cook and serve. As for the bird; set it in a tray over onion, carrot and herbs. Fill the cavity with lemon, sage, onion and seasoning cover the tray with foil add a little water and let it steam and roast.
What about the piles of veggies you are going to load onto that plate full of goodness?
The humble sprout is personally one of my favourites; I will eat them every day given the chance. If you can resist the urge to boil the life out of them then they are a perfect little nutri-bomb, a source of both folate (a B vitamin) and vitamin C with the added bonus of fibre. Good for the heart and digestion.
Just try and keep them low fat. Boil them for no more than 3 minutes, when they turn bright green then take them out of the water. Forget the butter put in a few chestnuts, lemon zest, juice and some fresh herbs.
Potatoes; A great source of carbohydrate (although personally I opt for sweet potato), just try and lay off the goose fat and other oils which they soak up like a sponge and boom your calories have gone up another notch or five.
Try a simple baked potato, not very Christmassy maybe but good for you all the same.
Carrots; We all know the benefits of carrots? Best known for the vitamin A contained within but did you know they are also full of Vitamin C, K, B8 pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper and manganese. Not forgetting fibre.
Red cabbage; Take a look at the colouring when you eat this you know full well you are in for a healthy treat. The colour tells you its full of disease fighting antioxidants which can only serve to make you feel good.
Parsnips; Like the carrot, parsnips are full of vitamins and minerals, folate, potassium, vitamin C and also fibre rich. Let’s keep them healthy and steam them to help keep that waist line ripped!
Cranberries; Are little bursts of vitamins C, E and fibre. Great berries but a little tart for most palettes making us reach for the sugar bowl. Try exchanging sugar for a little honey, stevia or coconut sugar instead. Add the berries to fresh orange juice and zest with cinnamon, nutmeg and your chosen sweetener, remember less is more.
Nuts; Always around at Christmas yet often totally abused, left to rot on the side as no one can be bothered to crack a shell. Come on that’s all part of your natural training, hunt, gather and prepare. They are a great source of omega 3, calcium, vitamin E and selenium, depending on which variety you choose. But just remember they are high in fat and therefore calories.
Chocolate; who in their right mind can refuse chocolate (sorry to offend any non-chocolate lovers?) but if you are going to indulge opt for the 70%+ dark chocolate option. Avoid the tinned sweets that come in at 40-50kcal each. You could potentially eat four or five squares from a dark bar at around 100 kcals all in while at the same time taking on a little extra in the form of nutrients, a win-win situation.
Finally there is the good old Christmas pudding full of dried fruit so yes full of sugar too. It is a source of fibre and B vitamins coupled with potassium, iron and calcium. Relatively low in fat but high in carbohydrates so go for a small portion, if you want to bring the calories down a little more then use Greek yoghurt instead of cream and brandy butter. Make a low fat version custard using semi -skimmed milk.
All in all a healthy meal, but like I said it’s how you treat the food that can make or break the waistline.
Enjoy Christmas, just remember, too much of a good thing has a tendency to give a little in return. All that booze, cake, mince pies and chocolate with a ton of calories will add to that ever expanding waist.
How many of people in the UK suffer from depression? It’s estimated that 1 in 4 of us will suffer some sort of mental health problem in our life time.
I am no specialist when it comes to depression apart from the fact that I have lived with it since my teenage years, back then though you were told to man up and get on with life, fortunately now mental health issues are understood a little more. Not by everyone though there are still those that shy away from you when you say you suffer from it.
Trust me it ain’t catching.
Got to be honest, sometimes it can be quite enjoyable seeing the world in such a different way, other times though it just crushes your soul when you slip into that pit of despair and self-loathing. The world just goes black and there is no fun, no love and no beauty to this life.
So many times I have thrown away opportunities, relationships and possessions when the darkness has taken its icy grip. There have been times when I haven’t even known that it has gripped me; it’s not been until my partner has said welcome back that I have any idea I’ve been away! My focus has just been surviving each day, coping with each little bit I can manage. When it’s like that no one else exists, it’s just me and my friend “misery”.
Don’t get me wrong, I have never stopped work or just given up and sat down all day (wanted to) that’s not me. I have shouted and screamed that I don’t want to do what has to be done. I have had to get up and perform for my boot camps or tai chi sessions but as soon as they have finished BAM I am back on the floor, would rather do a round with Mike Tyson than be hit by this.
Thankfully there is exercise, a proven method of coping and managing depression. It’s not a magic cure. I don’t believe there is one but it is a way to deal with it.
“Research shows that exercise and physical activity can be as effective as anti-depressant medication in treating mild to moderate depression”.
I have made it quite clear to the Doctors that drugs and me are not going to work, there are other ways.
Eat the right foods, stay away from alcohol, meditate and exercise. Food and exercise are the only drugs I need. Yeah I have tried drugs (illegal) and alcohol and they did nothing except send me over the edge and cover up the symptoms.
Also tried eating shit food, comfort eating and throwing up again, just ended up hating what I saw in the mirror each day,
When I train I am happy, life is good. It’s not a cure all but by god it lifts me up, I feel love for myself, pride in my appearance and invincible. All the things depression strips from me.
According to the Mental Health Foundation report taking part in exercise will;
– less tension, stress and mental fatigue
– a natural energy boost
– improved sleep
– a sense of achievement
– focus in life and motivation
– less anger or frustration
a healthy appetite
– better social life
There are several theories about why exercise is beneficial to mental health. These are related to biology (exercise leads to an increased release of endorphins and enkephalins), sociology (attendance enables people to build new relationships), skillmastery (exercise improves body condition and creates achievable goals), and distraction (exercise creates a diversion from a preoccupation with negative thoughts).
Signs and symptoms of depression
Tiredness and loss of energy.
Sadness that doesn’t go away.
Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting.
Feeling anxious all the time.
Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends.
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Sleeping problems – difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual.
Very strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
Finding it hard to function at work/college/school.
Loss of appetite.
Loss of sex drive and/or sexual problems.
Physical aches and pains.
Thinking about suicide and death.
It’s worth remembering that the foods we eat all have a major effect on our mind state, eat the wrong foods and watch your mental health deteriorate. Food can support or stress the body and mind.
Let’s not forget many of our modern day diets are lacking in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) from intense farming, foods being held in warehouses for long periods of time and through being highly processed.
To redress the balance there needs to be a focus on foods that support and heal the functions of the body and mind, foods that develop neurotransmitters (serotonin and noradrenalin being the main imbalance in those of us who suffer).
The obvious choices are wholesome, natural foods as we were intended to eat, water, nuts and seeds, oily fish, healthy lean proteins, fruits and vegetables alongside wholegrain foods.
These are foods the body recognises; they help support, regulate and maintain the body’s equilibrium.
It seems obvious then that the danger foods are sugar, dairy, processed foods, cakes, pastries and sweets, along with drinking alcohol, coffee and sugary drinks. All of these help to stimulate and unbalance the mind.
Even so it is noted that when depressed we reach for these very foods, foods that exacerbate the problem, foods that we know can harm us in more ways than one.
Recognise the self-destruct mode? Shove those biscuits and cakes down your throat, feel the guilt, hurt your mind and body some more, feel a little more hate towards yourself, fuel that fire. Watch your stomach swell, fat start to accumulate around your arms, legs and in in your face. Feel the despair, the anger the hatred towards yourself for letting this happen and yes, that’s right feed it some more, slip into that downward spiral that all-consuming pit.
Does have to be this way? NO
Avoid the danger foods or consume limited quantities, eat natural foods. Exercise, talk and destress yourself. It isn’t going to cure you but it will help manage the problem.
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