Christmas can be a nightmare for lots of people, not just those with IBS, as it is traditionally a time for overeating. If you have IBS, avoid all your known triggers, especially gluten and dairy but as there are so many alternatives out there these days you should be able to over-eat as much as the rest of us!
As a nutritionist I can usually find the good in any food, just as long as it's homemade and not highly processed (tip - always read the labels!) so read on to find out all the health benefits of a traditional Christmas dinner….
- Turkey - highly nutritious and full of protein and is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. Contains high levels of the amino acid Tryptophan which in turn creates B3 which is essential for the production of Serotonin (the happy hormone!).
- Chestnut stuffing - I'm focusing on the chestnuts mostly - lower in calories than many other types of nuts, full of a variety of vitamins and minerals and are a good source of antioxidants which prevent damage to DNA.
- Roast potatoes cooked in goose fat. Potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Goose fat is high in oleic acid with can lower cholesterol (not too many though!).
- Brussels Sprouts - okay, not all of us like them (I literally have one on my plate to show good will) but they are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are part of the cruciferous family that contain a hard to break down carbohydrate which can unfortunately lead to some rather noxious side effects....!
- Carrots - a good source of beta carotene which gets converted in your body into Vitamin A. This vitamin (also found in sweet potatoes and green leafy vegetables) plays a crucial role in eye health. We've all heard the saying "carrots can make you see in the dark" - not just an old wives tale - Vitamin A is a component of a protein in the eye that allows you to see in low light conditions!
- Peas - I'm sure not everyone has peas with their Turkey dinner but we do so I'm going with it! Full of Vitamin C & K, folate and metabolism boosting manganese (we'll need this after eating this lot!).
- Cranberry sauce - homemade is best to reap these benefits. Rich in vitamin C and manganese again. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/really-simple-cranberry-sauce
- Gravy - home made using a gelatine rich bone broth and you will not only have a fantastic flavour but also be consuming collagen, gelatine, chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine which are all involved in healing and protecting cartilage and tissues (bone broth is not just for Christmas!). https://www.boilandbroth.com/buy-bone-broth/
- Christmas Pudding - okay, on to the good stuff! Not everyone likes Christmas Pudding but watching my sister nearly burn the house down every year as she inevitably pours too much brandy on it is worth it! Traditional puddings are packed with dried fruit and nuts that unfortunately some people (especially is you have IBS) can have a real issue with but even they contain fibre, micronutrients and anti-oxidants....
- Cheese board - I'm feeling full just typing this! So, just when you thought you couldn't eat anything else, out comes the cheese! Mature, aged cheese from a farm shop/delicatessen are the best as they have been traditionally made so not full of salt and may even contain some beneficial microbes for your gut and most of the lactose has gone. Go easy now, leave some room for number 11!
- Chocolate - My favourite, but you know what I'm going to say (especially all my clients) "the higher the cocoa content the better". I'm very proud that I've worked up to 85% cocoa content because I know that it satisfies me more and that it is also full of antioxidants. However, the advent calendar of milk chocolate (that my husband very kindly bought me) is still calling me....
- Wine - the health benefits of drinking red wine has been debated for a long time. Whilst I'm not going to condone drinking, studies have repeatedly shown that red wine seems to lower the risk of several diseases - everything in moderation though so don't be blaming me for your hangover....
Happy Christmas everybody!