Cyprus Mail

Embrace the ‘healthiest meal of the year’

By Kristian Grey

With Christmas just a few weeks away the obvious thing to do in this column would be to advise on what foods to avoid to ensure you don’t go crazy and put on loads of weight during the holiday season. In fact, statistics released after the festive period last year revealed that the average British person (I don’t have the stats for Cyprus) experienced a weight gain of approximately 2.6kg, which was blamed largely on the estimated 6,000 calories consumed per person on December 25.

As the average male is said to require 2,500 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight and the average female, slightly less at 2,200 calories per day, you don’t need to be a mathematician to work out how people gain weight over Christmas.

However, consuming 6,000 calories in one day will no doubt make you feel sick as a dog but it will not lead to 2.6kg weight gain.

No… it’s extending the Christmas period over three weeks that can lead to the weight gain and health issues, but in reality, most of us do not have time to do that anyway because we lead busy lives and simply can’t sit around eating Quality Street every day – as much as we may want to.

If we limit our excesses to a splurge on Christmas Day and maybe the office party, then these reported kilo gains will simply not happen.

And in more good news, I have also long-argued that Christmas dinner for most people is potentially the healthiest meal of the year because of all those amazing, nutritional powerhouses that get ignored the other 364 days of the year find their way onto our plates.

Here, I am obviously referring to the much-maligned brussel sprout, cabbage, broccoli and the amazing green bean – among others. For whatever reason, these vegetables are for many only associated with Christmas dinner, and I cannot really understand why.

Green vegetables are loaded with so many nutrients that they should be the first thing we put on our dinner plates on a daily basis. That excellent fact, coupled with the knowledge that they are virtually impossible to overeat, means they are the perfect accompaniment to the roast turkey, or whatever your chosen protein is on the day.

Founder of Nic’s Keto and Organic Centre, Cyprus Nicolas Tzenios is not surprisingly a firm believer in the nutritional power of Christmas dinner because it can conform perfectly to an amazingly balanced meal.

“Firstly, green vegetables are full of antioxidants, which help build the body’s natural defences to fight illness. They are also packed full of minerals, are a natural source of fibre and contain a lot of water to keep you hydrated and feeling full,” he explained.

“They also sit perfectly alongside turkey, or whatever kind of meat you choose on Christmas Day, which will be packed full of protein, a key macronutrient which is essential for a healthy body going forward.

“People worry too much about the damage they are doing on Christmas Day, when in truth, they can be packing their body full of essential nutrients that will only serve to benefit and not harm.

“Of course, the trick is to not have too much of the starchy carbohydrates like the roast potatoes and try to limit the amount of sugar being consumed, but if you have packed your plate with plenty of vegetables, the ability to overeat other foods will be drastically limited.”

So, before you sit down on the big day remember these words: embrace the green stuff; give your body what it needs, and make sure you don’t wait another year before enjoying it all over again.

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