Tuesday, 10 December 2013

How to Cook, Eat and Celebrate over Christmas when you have arthritis

Every year I try and write a post about how to stay healthy over the holiday season when you have arthritis.
It's perhaps a little ironic that celebratory period of the year can also be one for the most challenging if you have arthritis. It's not that putting up Christmas trees, seeing family and friends, drinking mulled wine and eating too much good food are unhealthy activities but you'd need to the stamina of one of Santa's elves to do it all and remain in festive cheer unless you pace yourself when you have arthritis.

I'd love to share all my top tips on how to pace yourself and not to end up wrapping presents at midnight on Christmas Eve but the truth is I haven't cracked it yet. I can however give you some pointers on how to cook and eat healthily over the holidays.

1. Start the day well - make sure that no matter how busy you are that you start the day with a healthy breakfast. Porridge (oatmeal) with some fruit, yoghurt with a little festive granola (recipe here) or wholemeal toast and eggs are all simple, arthritis friendly meals that will help make sure that you at least get a balanced start to the day and ensure you aren't so hungry when you hit that Christmas lunch party that you gobble three mince pies before greeting the host.

2. Don't feel that you have to make the 'perfect' meal - if you are cooking, make it easy for yourself and your arthritis. Buy pre-chopped vegetables, jointed and dressed meats and have everything delivered. Don't feel that you have to create a magazine-worthy spread of heroic proportions. Nobody wants you to cripple yourself cooking, people would always rather a few simple dishes and a happy, healthy cook.

3. Keep things balanced - Christmas is inevitably a time of indulgence. That's wonderful and there is no need to not enjoy it just because you have arthritis but you can practice a bit of 'savvy scoffing'. There are so many delicious, seasonal and arthritis friendly foods to enjoy, like chestnuts, roast vegetables, dried fruit and nuts and lean turkey. If you know you are off to a party where there won't be many fruit and vegetables, make sure you have a nice veggie soup for lunch before you go. At buffets or big meals,try to make sure your plate is at least two-thirds full of vegetables, lean protein and wholegrains before you load it up with high-fat items like stuffing, pastries and cheeses.

4. Try some of my lightened-up arthritis friendly Christmas recipes - these tasty spinach and ricotta filo parcels make a great veggie main course or party snack. My chestnut and root vegetable risotto uses up all your leftovers from Christmas day. This chocolate mousse is a fantastic dessert that is guilt-free and this fish dish is an easy solution to the traditional Christmas Eve fish supper.


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