It is possible to have a treat and be good, says nutritional therapist Angela Attwood, who provides advice for those on a fertility journey.
Having a healthy BMI is important for fertility as gaining or losing weight affects the balance of the hormones controlling your reproductive hormones, however it is important to enjoy your food. Small substitutions and changing when and how you eat can help to make a difference, as Angela explains.
Top tips for Christmas eating
- Choose dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate – the higher the cocoa content the higher the amount of antioxidants and the lower sugar – and it means you only want 1-2 squares at a time! So it’s best to go for 75% or above. Chocolate bark is a great thing to make – there are many flavour combinations – store in the fridge (see recipe idea below).
- Fill your plate with greens – ditch the potatoes if you are trying to keep off the pounds or have PCOS but a couple of roast potatoes on Christmas day will be fine are high in starch which can rapidly raise blood sugar – something we want to avoid – carrots and parsnips are a good alternative but greens are the best.
- Secret is in the timing – eating a large meal at lunchtime means we have more time to digest it and utilise the calories. We have traditionally been encouraged to eat three meals a day – but if you know you are having a celebratory lunch or are out for dinner try skipping breakfast to give your digestion a rest and reduce your calorie intake.
- A little of what you fancy – it’s best to avoid snacking if you can – but if you’re feeling left out, try some nuts (see the rosemary spiced pecans recipe) and fresh fruit, sliced apple and nut butter or feta or home-made popcorn.
- Enjoy what you eat when eating out – focus on the good stuff – veg or salad and protein, ideally chicken or fish. Eat slowly, savouring your food, taking small bites to make it last longer and you will feel full sooner.
- Stay hydrated with water before your meal – this will help to ensure you don’t over-eat.
- Ideally skip dessert – restaurant desserts are loaded with sugar – or choose fresh fruit. Peppermint tea is always a nice refreshing way to end a meal.
- Walk it off – going for a nice walk after Christmas dinner will improve your blood sugar levels and lift your mood.
Fruit and nut chocolate bark
- 350g dark chocolate
- 125g blanched almonds, toasted and chopped
- 100g unsweetened dried fruit (eg cranberries or mango)
- Pinch of sea salt
- Line a baking sheet with parchment
- Melt the chocolate: Fill the bottom of a saucepan with 2-3cms of water and bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Put the chocolate in a bowl over the simmering water, stirring occasionally.
- Tip the melted chocolate into the prepared tin and smooth with a spatula so it is evenly distributed.
- Scatter over the remaining ingredients (you can add a pinch of dried chillies if you’re feeling brave!).
- Leave it in the fridge for the chocolate to set (about 30 minutes).
- Once set, peel off the parchment and break the chocolate into pieces.
- Store in an airtight container for up to a month (if it lasts that long!).
Rosemary spiced pecans
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 200g pecans
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas mark 3
- Melt the coconut oil over a low heat and finely chop the rosemary.
- Toss the rosemary into a bowl with the salt and paprika and pour the oil on top.
- Massage the spices into the pecan nuts.
- Spread the nuts onto a roasting tray and cook them in the oven for 25 minutes. Halfway through cooking stir the nuts so they cook evenly.
- Leave to cool before eating.
Chocolate fruit and nut clusters
- 100g dark chocolate
(eg Green & Blacks or other good quality chocolate)
- 15g dried cranberries
- 40g pecan nuts
- 5 Nairn’s rough oatcakes
- 2 teaspoons xylitol
- 40g flaked almonds
- Melt the chocolate in a glass bow set in shallow water over a low heat
- Blend all the other ingredients except for the flaked almonds in a blender until roughly chopped
- Add the mixture and the flaked almonds to the melted chocolate and cool through
- Spoon into 10 -12 cake cases or 20 petit four cases
- Chill in the fridge until set