As it occurs in Thanksgiving, turkey stands out as the flagship dish in the USA, but also in many other places such as Canada, Peru and, across the pond, Britain, where Christmas pudding is also a must. In Mexico, for example, people enjoy mouth-watering tamales, romeritos (seepweed sprigs served with potatoes) and ponche. Deep in the heart of continental Europe, we find some succulent proposals such as the Wigila meal, the traditional Polish Christmas dinner that includes a wide range of foods, from the always-delicious pierogies to carp fillet or poppy seed rolls.
One of the Poles' neighbors, the Germans, can also boast about having a tasty menu for 'the most wonderful time of the year'. Their meal usually features roast goose, duck, red cabbage and potato dumplings, and let's not forget about Stollen, a cake-like fruit bread served as dessert (yum!).
Going south, we can't fail to mention how the Italians do it. If you are into fish and were about to spend Christmas with an Italian family, you would get very excited about their Christmas Eve celebration: 'the feast of the seven fishes'. Considered a vigil of fasting and, thus, implying an abstinence from red meat, this grand meal lives up to its name, as it consists of seven courses, all of them including some sort of fish or, at least, seafood. Cod is often the main attraction here, though as you can expect, there's also pasta on the table!
Sticking to the Mediterranean countries, Spain also has a lo to offer when it comes to gorging on tasty nutriments. Soups, poultry, meats of all kinds and seafood (oven-baked prawns!) precede a sweet dessert, made up of turrones (nougat candy) and polvorones, sort of crumbly shortbreads made of nuts, milk, flour and sugar.
And what about Asia? Well, there we find peculiar customs like the japanese one. Since the 'Kentucky for Christmas' campaign, which was a complete success back in the 70's, japanese families in large numbers go get their 'Christmas chicken' at the fast food chain Kentucky Fright Chicken. The campaign was originally aimed to meet the demand from those foreigners living in Japan who couldn't find turkey for Christmas, but it unexpectedly took hold among locals.
And what would you eat if you happened to celebrate Christmas in the summer? That's what, for example, happens in Australia, where a lot of people have their summer holidays matching up with Christmas time. Therefore, it's not unusual for them to spend these days on the beach or in the countryside while having a barbecue! Obviously, the 'Christmas spirit' is also reflected in the meals, with typical meats such as ham and turkey often served cold (to cope with the hot temperatures).
You are in control
While some can't wait to start chomping on such Christmas dishes, others fear them for different reasons: putting on weight, suffering from indigestion or even feeling sick to their stomachs. Yet, what we sometimes forget is that we are in control; we decide what we want to eat and the amount of food we put in our mouths. In case you need some help on how to 'survive' the copious Christmas meals, here are some useful tips to follow:
- Don't skip any meals in order to make room for the 'big ones'. That way, you will be less likely to 'attack' the food you have on your plate.
- Make smart choices in the kitchen. Steamed, grilled and baked meats and fish are way healthier than recipes with fright, greasy options.
- Be careful with desserts. We all want to enjoy our favorite christmasy sweets, but self-control is important. Sharing is caring, so here you have a good opportunity to do it and, in turn, do yourself a favour.
- Limit salt intake as it causes fluid retention and, also, it can lead to hypertension.
- Increase your physical exercise. As you'll eat more than usual, make up for those extra calories with more intense workouts. If you don't exercise at all, this is a good moment to get started (long walks can do the trick!).
All in all, we hope you have a yummy Christmas. And if it can also be a healthy one, even better!