The holiday season is eagerly awaited, meeting up with people you love, catching up and sharing a meal together. Is there anything better? But for this day to be memorable it is important to get the menu right, exaggerations can compromise the enjoyment of those festivities.
It’s common to see plentiful tables and a lot of variety during the festivities, so far no problem, if you get your choices right. Let’s talk about some mistakes made when putting together the menu for the Christmas dinner.
First of all, let’s highlight a very important issue. We’ll talk about pleasure.
Pleasure is a pleasant sensation or emotion, linked to the satisfaction of a desire. Pleasure is generated by increased production of a hormone called dopamine. This hormone is produced in the brain at various receptors called D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5 according to location and function.
External stimuli are often triggers for the body to produce dopamine. Among these stimuli, the most used is food, but not just any food. Among them, those rich in sugar or fast-absorbing carbohydrates such as white rice, potatoes, pastries in all of its forms, foods rich in fat and stimulants like coffee and chocolate are on the top of the list. These have been used to generate pleasure, soothe guilt or escape even for a moment from anxiety or stress.
A warning, the use of these foods in the pursuit of pleasure generates addiction, you can become addicted. You may say: No way, but at the end of the day, you don´t resist. The need for large doses of dopamine is becoming a constant. Brain D2 receptors are highly stimulated by the above foods. The consequences are numerous, but weight gain is one of the major ones.
The title of the article refers precisely to this aspect, your Christmas dinner can be deposited in your body in the form of fat. One of the main causes of obesity is precisely this unrestrained search for pleasure produced by food. When the year comes to its end, people start to make their new years resolutions. I suggest that you make it a priority to take control of your health in 2022, so start by making better food choices for Christmas dinner.
Families often have the habit of serving their meal very late on Christmas Eve. Our metabolism slows down at night and digestion is compromised, increasing the time the food remains in the stomach. The foods that generate the most workload for the stomach and digestive organs such as the intestine, liver and pancreas are fatty and protein foods.
Beware of foods such as meat, cheese and the famous mayonnaise. All of these are high in fat and protein and can wake you up with a hangover the next day. Hangover? That’s right!
People who have the habit of drinking alcoholic beverages wake up with a hangover due to the workload that alcohol causes for the liver to promote the detoxification process. Fatty and protein foods eaten late at night and in large volumes can make you wake up with a bad headache, bitter mouth, and a terrible mood. The pleasures of the table can end the enjoyment of Christmas celebration.
Give preference to foods that are less concentrated in protein and fat and richer in carbohydrates. But this carbohydrate needs to be of good quality, that is, rich in fiber. Refined carbohydrates in excess favor the formation of triglycerides and you can end the year heavier on the scale. Unfortunately that’s what happens, the end-of-the-year menu usually promotes weight gain in the population, some can add more than 9 pounds between Christmas and New Year.
Also note what will be served to drink. Soda is a bomb of empty calories, this drink is concentrated in sugar with very fast intestinal absorption, it generates work overload to the pancreas that produces a lot of insulin and consequently increases the formation of fat, in addition to the additives, stimulants and gas that is an irritant to gastric mucous.
Industrialized juices are not far behind in terms of sugar, they are not indicated even if they do not have the harm caused by stimulants and gas. Give preference to natural and less caloric juices such as passion fruit, acerola and cashew fruit juice. If you need to sweeten, give preference to sweeteners such as stevia, xylitol and thaumatin. Serving flavored water is a good option.
For Christmas dinner, start with entrees based on home made whole-grain breads served with spreads. We suggest an eggplant antipasti, thyme cream and azapa black olive spread.
Also include a refreshing red quinoa salad and a tofu caponata accompanied with brown rice.
For dessert, seasonal fruits and a delicious Tiramisu.
This is our suggestion for a healthy and tasty Christmas dinner, but nothing prevents you from adding more dishes, just be careful with your choices and with too much variety. The higher the number of options, the easier it is to overdo it on this day.
Here is a summary with some more suggestions:
- Do not serve a wide variety of foods at supper.
- Fruits in abundance are the best choices to be served on the Christmas table.
- Beware of foods high in protein and fat, they are slow to digest and you may have hangover symptoms the next day, even if you don’t drink an ounce of alcohol.
- Supper is for socializing with friends and family and not for “stuffing”.
- Go around the table where supper is being served without the plate, look and choose. Only then pick up the plate. This will help you not be surprised and reach the end of the table with your plate crammed.
- Mixing two or more carbohydrate sources can lead to intestinal fermentation.
- Ingesting large volumes of liquid with a meal can promote reflux.
- Have your Christmas dinner early, don’t wait for the bells to ring in midnight.
A Merry Christmas and an abundant health in 2022.
- 1 cup of tofu
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons of thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Put the oil, garlic and thyme, salt and a handful of crumbled tofu in a blender.
- Pulse and gradually add the rest of the tofu, until you get the desired texture.
- If you want to store it, put it in a jar with a lid.
Tofu and Azapa Black Olives Spread
- 1 cup of soft tofu
- 8 azapa black olives
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Mix all ingredients in food processor until smooth. If you’re going to do it in a blender, you might need to add some water.
Red Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup of red quinoa
- 1 dish of red cabbage
- ½ cup walnuts or peanuts
- ½ cup chopped almonds
- 1 clove of garlic
- olive oil
- salt to taste
- lemon to taste
- Wash the quinoa about 3 times.
- Place in a pan with 2 cups of water and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the water dries well.
- Let cool.
- Sanitize the cabbage and cut it very thin.
- Mash the garlic and chop the almonds.
- Mix the remaining ingredients.
Eggplant Caponata with Tofu
- 1 large eggplant cut into stripes
- 1 large zucchini cut into stripes
- 1 cup of tofu
- 1 medium sliced onion
- 1 chopped peeled tomato
- 4 tablespoons of oil
- 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons of chopped raisins
- 1 tablespoon of crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- salt to taste
- Saute the garlic, onion and salt in a pan.
- Add the eggplant, zucchini and tomato and saute until soft.
- Add the diced tofu and sauté a little more to get the taste.
- Add the olive oil, nuts and raisins.
- Serve hot or cold.
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Ricardo Vargas de Andrade is a Nutritionist specialized in Emotional Management. He is an international speaker, and has already produced several programs for the Novo Tempo TV Channel.