Christmas can be a nightmare when you're trying to eat clean and not pile the weight on. However, some of our Christmas staples are actually nutrient powerhouses not to be missed! Nutritional Therapist Charlotte Griffin explains the tastiest Christmas 'must-eats', to help you sail through the festive period.

This is a guest post by Charlotte Griffin, a (mighty fine) Nutritional Therapist from Something on a Plate.

Welcome to my first post of many on Healthy Perspective!  
As you can see from my initial Q&A with Jan, I hope to deliver a healthy dose of well-rounded thinking, combined with a level of pragmatism and realism that promotes an appreciation of good food and the intricacies of its impact on our mind and body.  
If you have any nutrition related topics specifically you'd like featured don't hesitate to contact Jan or myself and I'd be happy to see what I can do.  
So to begin, it'd be silly for me to ignore the impending festive season, but the age old rhetoric is often what to avoid, what to limit, what to hide out of sight and what to refuse.

Bah Humbug.  

Come on ... it's CHRISTMAS! We only experience it every 12 months and it's an opportunity to embrace so many different foods that we often only consume over the festive period and we're more than likely to spend a bit extra on the food as it provides such a key part of the celebrations.

So forego guilt about that Terry's Chocolate Orange you literally have once a year and focus on the great, nutritious, delicious food available over this period and remember - they're not just for Christmas!    

Lazy brunch of Smoked Salmon & Scrambled Eggs on Toast    

My all time favourite brunch, whatever the season. It's the only brunch I've found that delivers on both taste and sustaining energy and will undoubtedly keep me going until lunch time.

Why is this meal so special? Because of the individual components of the ingredients working in perfect synergy to provide a gradual release of energy with additional anti-inflammatory nutrients.  

Salmon is a rich protein source of anti-inflammatory Omega 3, our body cannot produce this essential fatty acid so we need to get it through food.

A seedy, grain free paleo loaf to serve it on would be ideal providing more protein, but realistically on Christmas Day with everything else you have to prepare ... consider treating yourself to a good bakers sourdough instead as a compromise.

This bread is much easier to digest as it contains flour and water fermented by natural yeasts and lactobacilli (one of those ‘good' probiotic bacterias), added to the baker's dough and then left to rise for a few hours - without processing or too much manhandling. The springy, spongy consistency caused by gluten naturally occurs in the loaf - so unlike most breads nowadays there's no need to add gluten to a sourdough, it's no surprise we're awash with gluten intolerances! 
The presence of the protein from the salmon and eggs and the fibre in the bread reduces the breakdown (metabolism) of the carbohydrates from the bread which means we avoid a sugar spike and experience a slower release of energy. And as we all know Christmas lunch doesn't always make it out at the time planned so a good breakfast is crucial.  

Not so awful offal 


Mention a proper, traditional, classic liver pate for starter and the likely reaction is one of a collective offensive shudder and polite decline. Yet liver is such a nutrient rich source it's no wonder predatory animals eat body organs first before starting on the rest of their prey. A popular misconception is that the liver is an organ that filters toxins from blood, so why would you choose to eat it.

However the liver acts more like a processing unit, making toxins inert and then moving them along in the body - so your liver's pretty much as toxic as the rest of your body. To reap the most benefits though purchase organic liver and pate - the less toxins the animals has been exposed to through it's life the better for the state of its liver and the rest of it's meat.

Low in saturated fat, liver is an incredibly rich source of Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin A and B Vitamins especially Vitamin B12 so you've got energy, immune boosting and nervous system support bound up in one food.    

The Underappreciated Roast Turkey

Poor turkey, we ignore it for most of the year then overdose on it at every pre-Christmas work/social event and then overcook it until it's dry beyond recognition on the big day. What did turkey do to deserve this? Turkey, especially a decent quality, locally farmed or organic turkey is a nutrient dense and delicious (when cooked right) meat.  

Rich in vitamins ​B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, biotin, niacin, choline, selenium and zinc, the B Vitamins especially are key at what can prove a stressful day, working hard to help the process of energy conversion from food and supporting your nerve structures.​ ​

Turkey provides a high protein quantity and low calorie alternative to other meats (p/100g; 24g of protein, 105 calories, 0/8 g of fat) - I'm not a calorie counter but bearing in mind how much else we're likely to be eating on Christmas day something slightly leaner isn't such a bad idea! The protein does the job with the carbohydrates as discussed above, again keeping energy levels more stable. 
Keep some of your turkey back for supper too, turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin and melatonin your sleep hormone, so a bit of turkey before bed will help with the Zzzzzzzzzsss (if you're not already in a food coma).

The Little Green Immunity Bullet  


Sprouts. Just the mention of the vegetable can create a look of fear and raise muted objections at the dinner table. But these little immune boosting delights need to be embraced more! We just need to cook them for less time, preferably steaming for a few minutes until still firm so they're less offensive to all later on in the day.

Rich in flavonoids (plant based substances) and Vitamins C, A and E these little blighters provide a whammy of antioxidant nutrients, key to supporting our immune system by mopping up free radicals created by other not so nice compounds found in cigarettes, alcohol, processed foods and some chemicals amongst others.

Sprouts are also low GL, which means they essentially break down slower into the bloodstream and provide less calories than say starchier vegetables like potatoes and beetroot and their fibre also helps to slow down this process whilst providing multiple other benefits including lowering cholesterol. What's now not to love?!   
So hopefully I've provided enough evidence to encourage eating these foods on Christmas Day and beyond when available.

Enjoy good food this Christmas, spend as much time recuperating as celebrating and I look forward to welcoming in 2017 with you all!

You can find out more about Charlotte and the amazing work she does with her clients here.

If you fancy getting more into a Paleo lifestyle, the New Year is the perfect time - download the FREE 10-week transition to Paleo programme.