How to keep your health goals this holiday season?

By Natalia Otero Sancho | Chelsea Nutritionist

Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner (IFMCP)
Registered Nutritionist MBANT CNHC FNTP

Dec 18, 2021

Holiday season is around the corner and with excitement comes anxiety for those who are concerned about how to keep their health goals on track.

Traditional Christmas meals are mostly full of gluten, dairy, sugar… and alcohol.

However, you may be surprised to learn that even if you suffer from health conditions (diabetes, autoimmune disease, metabolic syndrome…), you can still enjoy most of your Christmas traditional dishes by following a few tips shared below.

Before moving on to these tips, here is a Reminder: Keep in mind that if you suffer from a specific health condition, it is very important to carry on following your diet restrictions. If in doubt, ask your nutritionist or physician.

  • Structure your day

Find some time to MOVE: go outside everyday, do some brisk walking (for at least 20 minutes) to build up stamina, burn calories, reduce stress hormones and boost your feel-good endorphins.

Research suggests that it is good even for your gut microbes! Which are crucial for your digestive function and overall health. Ideally, walk first thing in the morning to kick off your day – without sunglasses so that the sunlight can hit your retina – this will impact your pineal gland and hormones to keep your internal clock in check for a good quality sleep and optimal overall health!

  • KICKSTART YOUR GUT the right way

Start the day with organic apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in a glass with warm/at room temperature water – always dilute it in water to prevent tooth enamel damage. The benefits of this drink are eased digestion and better blood sugar balance. 


Do not skip meals to save calories or carbs, just avoid snacking and keep your turrón, polvorones, Xmas pudding, panettone …for after your main meals in order to reduce the spike of sugar.

Leave at least 4 hours gaps between your meals.


Fill out your plate with veggies and protein and, if you really want to indulge, leave the pre-natal nibbles (canapés, crisps, bread, alcohol…) for last. This way you will eat less of the stuff that causes those extra pounds. 

Start your main meals “chewing” some bitters (rocket leaves, asparagus, chicory, kale…) to help secrete digestive enzymes and HCL (gastric juices) and 1-2 bites of protein to help lessen the glycemic load.


Some supplements might give you some extra help to prevent/relieve bloating, reflux and support your liver – ask your health practitioner what can be appropriate for you.


You will find below a few recipes to inspire you.

Roast monkfish with lemon and parsley/coriander butter (Ingredients: x2 pax)

  • 360g monkfish fillets
  • 1Tbsp. olive oil
  • Cornish salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 40g grass fed unsalted butter
  • A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley or coriander – leaves only

Preheat your oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7.  Pat them dry with kitchen paper.  Gently rub a little salt and pepper

Meaty monkfish fillets are perfect for roasting. Just give them a quick sizzle in the frying pan and then flash cook in the oven for flaky fillets with a golden-brown crust.

A lemon and parsley/coriander butter sauce is a simple and fresh accompaniment that takes just a few minutes to make.

  1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7.  Pat them dry with kitchen paper.  Gently rub a little salt and pepper.
  2. Place an ovenproof frying pan on a medium-high heat for 2 mins, then add the monkfish. Fry for 2 mins to just brown the monkfish, then carefully turn it over and fry for a further 2 mins.
  3. Transfer the frying pan to the oven and roast the monkfish for 6-8 mins, depending on how thick the fillets are. The monkfish will be opaque and flake easily when pressed with a fork when it’s ready.
    No ovenproof frying pan? Simply fry the monkfish in a frying pan, then transfer to a lightly greased roasting tin or baking tray and roast it in that.
  4. While the monkfish roasts, make the lemon and parsley butter. Finely grate the zest from the lemon. Juice 1 half. Roughly chop the parsley leaves.
  5. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat, then stir in the lemon zest, juice and most of the parsley leaves. Season with a little salt and pepper. Bubble together for 1 min, then take off the heat. When the monkfish is ready, take it out of the oven and pour over the lemon and parsley butter. Garnish with the remaining chopped


  • 1 head Frizze (curly endive/escarole) lettuce
  • 1/2 red lollo lettuce
  • 12 white asparagus
  • 75g shelled hazelnuts
  • 1 large pomegranate
  • Dressing: 3 tbsp Spanish extra olive oil, 1 tbsp hazelnut oil, 1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar, Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Wash the leaves, separate into bite-sized pieces and place in a salad bowl.
  2. Place the hazelnuts on a baking tin under a medium hot grill and toast until the skins crack. 
  3. Place in a clean cloth and rub until the skins come off and the nuts should be a golden brown colour. When cool, they can be roughly chopped if wished, or left whole, then added to the leaves and white asparagus.
  4. Cut open the pomegranate and carefully remove the seeds from the pith, then add to the salad.  Whisk together the dressing, pour over the salad, toss then serve.

Asparagus with truffle oil (Makes 6 servings)
(1 serving ≈ 1⅔ cup arugula and ⅔ cup asparagus mixture):

  • 500g asparagus, ends discarded
  • 2 tablespoons truffle oil, divided
  • 500g arugula (or use . pound watercress)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  1. Cut asparagus stalks into .-inch diagonal slices, separating tips.
  2. In a wok or large sauté. pan, stir-fry asparagus stalks, 1 tablespoon truffle oil over medium heat until lightly browned. Add asparagus tips and continue to stir-fry for another 4–5 minutes. Remove from heat and toss with salt and pepper.
  3. Pile arugula (or watercress) in a salad bowl and toss with remaining 1-tablespoon truffle oil. Top with asparagus and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. 

Almond truffles

  • 240g full fat canned unsweetened coconut milk
  •  1 teaspoon of almond, orange, vanilla, or hazelnut extract – Edible essential oils
  •  230g bittersweet dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), finely chopped
  •  30g-40g cocoa powder or chopped nuts for coating


  1. In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a simmer. Stir in the extract, then pour the mixture over the chocolate in a separate bowl. Let stand a few minutes before stirring until smooth. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (Remove mixture from refrigerator while it is still malleable.) 
  2. Using a small spoon, form 1-inch balls and roll them quickly between your palms. Place balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate overnight. 
  3. Roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts. Store the truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

May 2022 bring you all that you desire for yourself and others to live a healthy, happy and purposeful life. 

Happy New Year!

Vinegar antiglycemic effect

Vinegar – reduce postprandial blood glucose

Effects of vinegar on glucose and lipid metabolism

Light can also be used as an effective and noninvasive therapeutic option with little to no side effects, to improve sleep, mood and general well-being.

The accumulation of physical activity (PA) throughout the day has been suggested as a means to increase physical activity behavior

Aerobic exercise training that targets an increase of the time spent in brisk walking may increase intestinal Bacteroides in association with improved cardiorespiratory fitness in healthy elderly women.

How does exercise affect the gut microbiome?

Eating vegetables before carbohydrates could reduce the postprandial glucose, insulin, and improve long-term glycemic control

Eating vegetables and protein before carbohydrates. The researchers found that glucose levels were 29%, 37% and 17% lower at the 30, 60 and 120-minute checks, compared with when carbohydrates were consumed first.

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