A few people have been asking me about cooking over Christmas with arthritis and what to eat to help avoid a massive festive flare. I thought I'd share a few suggestions on the eating first. Christmas is about family, friends and enjoying celebrating together. It's important to have fun and not worry too much about the tightening waist band or mince-pie sugar high. But we all want to stay happy and healthy for the holidays, so here are some practical eating hints and links to the relevant recipes.
1. Love your spices - all the ginger, cloves and cinammon in Christmas cooking are great anti-inflammatories so throw them in everything and enjoy their benefits.
2. Go nuts for nuts - almonds, walnuts, brazils, pecans, cashews and so on are good sources of healthy omega 3 and monosaturated fats which can help reduce inflammation. They are also rich in magnesium, zinc, selenium, fibre and protein. Eat them plain (rather than honey roast or salted) or try using them in your cooking; you can replace some of the cakes with ground almonds or hazelnuts for a delicious and healthy change.
3. Watch your fats - it is very fashionable to cook your roast potatoes in goose fat or beef dripping. For a once off on Christmas day, that's fine but it's much better to roast in olive oil for your heart and joints over the festive season.
4. Be creative with your fruit and vegetables - people with arthritis are consistently found to eat less fruit and vegetables that our un-joint-challenged friends. Probably because carrying and chopping them is such a hassle when Arthur is nipping at your toes! Christmas can seem particularly tricky, with so much to do and prepare. Easy ways to make sure you are getting enough are to have juice with your breakfast, dried fruit as a snack (and there is loads around at Christmas) and serve veg that don't need a lot of work: spinach, peas, sprouts, beans etc all are easy to cook.
5. Drink with decorum - this one is from experience...most of us don't tend to drink much throughout the year because of our medications. Being limited to 5 units or so a week usually can make all the Christmas alcohol a bit of a shock to the system. Falling asleep before the main course is not a good look for a Christmas guest! And a hangover is a sure fire way to set off a flare, so enjoy the mulled wine and eggnog but for every glass, drink one of water. Make sure you eat and take it S-L-O-W.
6. Start the day well - getting in a healthy breakfast is an easy way to keep your eating on track over Christmas. Even if the rest of the day is a wash with champagne and chips (here's hoping...), having a nice bowl of porridge with berries or a banana muffin will set you up nicely for all that shopping,wrapping and partying.
Check back in a few days for some festive recipes and cooking hints.