In the darkest time of the year, a festive feast can really make you feel better. But why? We put our questions to Good Mood Food author Charlotte Watts in a special episode sponsored by Mindful Christmas Magazine.


Listen on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Spotify, Acast, Stitcher and most major podcast providers, or listen online below.

Charlotte says: "Christmas was a feast, before Christians picked it up it was a pagan feast. It would be a large feast in the middle of the winter to use up all of the food that couldn't be preserved and the stuff that would take us through the winter.

"It would have the quality of supporting the immune system and giving us the dense nutrition that we needed to get us through the hard times."

Nowadays, we tend to discard the parts of Christmas that we like and keep the bits that we do – which means a lot of refined sugar and less fruits.

"When foods have that nice, spicy quality that they used to have – the warming thermogenic foods like cinnamon and ginger, like orange peel – that really nice combination of Christmas smells. It does have that quality of keeping us going through the winter. The trouble now is the sugar-fest that batters the immune system before winter."

For many of us, alcohol is involved in our Christmas celebrations. "Alcohol is a depressive," explains Charlotte. "It dampens our ability to regulate our own neurotransmitters. It's initially a relaxant, so firstly it gives a flood of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which stills the mind. We produce it when we meditate or do mindful practises like yoga.

"Some people rely on alcohol to get that fix, but it's shortlived."

Listen to the podcast to hear more from Charlotte, including how to look after your gut health over the Christmas period.

Mindful Christmas is available now in the UK, USA and Australia. Good Mood Food by Charlotte Watts and Natalie Savona is published by Nourish and goes on sale in the UK on 20 December (priced £10.99).

Copper pan filled with mulled wine

Photo by Monika Grabkowska and Hannah Pemberton on Unsplash.