The Christmas period, for many, is an all-out blowout. Anything goes. Boxes of chocolates demolished in one sitting, third helpings of Christmas pudding & glass after glass of eggnog. Diets go out the window. The pièce de résistance is the Christmas dinner. The merest mention of turkey and all the trimmings is enough to have you drooling. With vegetables and lean meat, surely the centerpiece of the Christmas blowout isn’t as bad as you think? We look at whether your Christmas dinner is a healthy oasis in a dessert of gorging and how food intolerance symptoms can be the deciding factor.
Turkey is one of the leanest meats you can eat. With incredibly low-fat content, it is an excellent source of dietary protein. Turkey also contains tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and has been proven to help improve mood (helpful when the family fun wears off). It is also an incredibly rich source of vitamin B6, which has been shown to improve brain health. Importantly, it is also low calorie compared to other meats, meaning you can put more on your plate! Did you know some people have a food intolerance for turkey and other meats? This causes symptoms, including bloating and nausea.
Everyone and their mother has a family recipe for their very own stuffing, and it is THE best stuffing you will ever taste. But is it healthy? Well, in short, no. Your typical instant stuffing is made from dried breadcrumbs, herbs, and a whole lot of preservative chemicals. Stuffing, while incredibly tasty, contains very little in the way of nutritional value. Another problem presented by stuffing is that it can trigger food intolerance symptoms of people who are sensitive to gluten.
Verdict: Not Healthy! (But very tasty!)
Yams are often mistaken for sweet potato. They look similar and taste similar. Fortunately, this is not the end of the likeness. As with sweet potatoes, Yams are packed with nutritional value. They’re a great source of slow-release carbohydrates, which will keep you energized throughout the day. They also pack in the fiber, which is vital at this time of year, with constipation rates increasing around Christmas. They also help you towards micronutrient goals such as copper, manganese, and vitamin C.
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Not unanimously popular, but loved by those who do eat it, cranberry sauce is a staple of the Christmas dinner. Some people cover their dinner in it. The question is, is it good for you? Well, we have some good news; cranberries are a superfood! They’re packed with antioxidants that are proven to combat brain degradation caused by aging and even cancer. They’re also rich in vitamin C, fiber and manganese. So grab a spoon and pile up the cranberry sauce and experience the health benefits!
Here are a selection of other Christmas dinner classics and our verdict on their healthiness:
- Carrots – Healthy!
- Broccoli – Healthy!
- Brussel Sprouts – Healthy!
- Gravy – Healthy!…ish
- Mashed Potatoes – Healthy! As long as you watch the added ingredients
Is Christmas Dinner Healthy?
By and large, the ingredients that make up the traditional Christmas dinner are packed with nutritional value and the things you need to maintain good health over the festive period. It is important to consider food intolerance when making your Christmas dinner as the symptoms can be similar to those that you would associate with unhealthy foods – nausea, diarrhea, and bloating. It is essential to be aware of your food intolerance; you can do this by taking an intolerance test. It is essential to restrict consumption of the less healthy foods such as stuffing as overconsumption will lead to discomfort and weight gain.