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In the lead up to Christmas it’s all too for our minds and bodies to become overwhelmed by all of the indulgence and excess that the holiday period brings with it. However, staying mindful and healthy doesn’t have to be as tricky as we might first think. Christmas is a time for indulgence, relaxing, and celebrating – we all need a bit of time off over the holidays, but with work events and dinners filling up the social calendar, it can be easy to get swept along in the storm, with our health and nutrition goals often following not far behind. But fear not, by following my simple tips below, you can not only enjoy Christmas in all its glory, but stay happy and healthy along the way too – wave goodbye to feelings of guilt and anxiety, and get ready to welcome 2017 with a happy healthy bang!
Over Xmas we’re often rushing from one place to the next, trying to find last minute presents, or running to the next work or social event, which can mean we end up running to the nearest fast food outlet or supermarket to grab a quick snack. Plan ahead – make sure you’ve always got some healthy snacks on you to avoid reaching for the convenient ‘not so healthy’ option. Homemade energy balls, oatcakes, hummus, carrot/celery sticks and nuts, are all great options that will not only keep blood sugar levels balanced, but that will leave you feeling fuller for longer. Why not try keeping healthy snacks at the office too, and avoid reaching for the Xmas biscuit tin when you’re feeling a bit peckish!
Even though we are all extra busy at this time of year, try to make it a priority to stay on top of your normal exercise routine. This will help your health stay on track over the festive period, and regular exercise will lessen your appetite for sugary, refined foods. If you’re feeling the effects of stress or fatigue over the holidays, why not try some yoga, pilates, tai chi, qigong, or meditation classes.
It can be hard to avoid all of the drinks and dinners during the Christmas period, especially as work and office events begin to take over our social calendars. So to lessen the effects of all this extra alcohol on our bodies, have a glass of water between each drink – this will slow down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, and will help flush the alcohol and toxins from our body. Try to opt for gin or vodka and tonic when choosing drinks, as these contain far fewer calories than wine and cocktails, and adding a slice of lemon and lime will have an alkalising effect on the body.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO
It’s so easy to end up saying ‘yes’ to every event that comes our way during the rush and excitement of Christmas, but try not to feel pressured into attending everything. Say yes to the ones that are important to you, and avoid those where you know your health goals may be extremely hard to stick to.
Events where there’s a buffet or finger food can often leave you unsatisfied, going back for more time and time again, as they are often rich in sugar and unhealthy fats. Try eating something before you go – a protein rich salad or light meal, so that you won’t arrive feeling hungry, and won’t be tempted to launch into the inviting spread.
PLAN YOUR COURSES
If you’re going to a sit-down meal with several courses, choose what you’re going to have beforehand – this way you won’t have to order under pressure and fall back on one of the less healthy options. Be wise and ensure you go for something with a nice amount of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, staying clear of the refined stuff as much as possible.
Make the most of your indulgent foods over the Christmas period. Instead of reaching for foods that you can have at any time of the year, choose foods that have a special Christmas meaning to you. We all like to indulge at this time of year, and that’s absolutely fine, just make sure you really enjoy and savour what you go for.
DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST
Make sure you eat a healthy, balanced breakfast, rich in protein and healthy fats, even if you know you are eating out and indulging later. Eating a nutritious breakfast will help to balance blood sugar levels, and will keep you feeling fuller for longer, making it easier to avoid over-eating later.
LOVE YOUR GUT
Invest in a good probiotic. These are full of good gut bacteria, which help to keep our gut nice and healthy, and will lessen the effects of alcohol and rich food on the digestive system. Topping up with these guys over the holiday season can help to combat bloating and constipation, keeping everything flowing along nicely.
Increased alcohol consumption can mean that our levels of B vits can quickly deplete. B vitamins are essential for so many chemical reactions in the body, and are vital for energy production, so when we are lacking in these, we can often feel fatigued, sluggish, and drained. Green leafy veg, brown rice, and oats are great sources, so make sure you’re getting enough in your diet. You can also invest in a B complex supplement if you want to make sure your levels are tip top.
Try to have a herbal tea after eating big meals, this will help to digest the food and lighten the load on the digestive system. Ginger, fennel, dandelion, peppermint, are all good for helping digestion, and relieving indigestion and bloating. Maybe try having one before dessert, as may lessen your want for something sweet after dinner.