If you’ve worked hard on getting healthy this year this is not the time to undo all your efforts during the Christmas and New Year period. But it doesn’t mean not being able to enjoy the traditional festivities and food favourites. This Christmas Health Survival Guide will give you my tips on what to do, what not to do and what fabulous healthy and delicious choices you can make, in order for you to look good and feel healthy and not regret too much in the New Year!
1. Don’t try to diet over the festive period. Set a rough maintenance goal instead. This is more realistic and much more achievable. This will give you the freedom to enjoy yourself without feeling deprived or the pressure to rebel (ha!)
2. Normal routine tends to go out of the window over Christmas. Try to make sure you take care of yourself and still prepare in advance as much as can. That way it should help to keep stress levels to a minimum, keep fatigue at bay, and give you the confidence that you have the right food choices in the house
3. Try and stick to the more normal routine on the days when you can. Christmas festivities tend to follow a pattern of a couple of days of festivities then downtime. Use this time to get back to a good blood-sugar balancing way of eating with half your plate full of vegetables then a quarter carbs and a quarter protein. Don’t forget good fats too (butter, coconut oil, or olive oil). Your body will thank you for it. You can enjoy some delicious, tasty food knowing it’s doing all the right things for you, yet still enjoying the occasional indulgence
4. Make the effort to continue with your exercise programme. If your usual classes aren’t running, choose other options instead such as brisk walks with friends & family in the cold winter air. Some exercise has to be part of every day. Sitting slumped in front of the TV for extended periods only makes the body conserve energy for later – round the middle. Here it covers your digestive organs and makes it harder for them to work. It also produces its own hormones, knocking your digestive system out of balance but as the endocrine system is all linked together, if one hormone is out of balance then others will be too
5. Start the day with warm water and a tsp of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. This primes the liver and gets the digestive system ready to deal with food (apple cider vinegar is acidic, so always have it in water – never neat, to preserve your tooth enamel)
6. Always have breakfast (and stay away from sugary cereals!). Make sure it’s a combination of protein, carbs and fats for better balance – porridge with cinnamon and ginger is good (Recipe on my Website under Free Stuff ) and keeps your blood sugar in balance and avoids a big dip by mid-morning when you’re tempted to reach for the mince pies and Christmas cake. These are loaded with sugar and will spike your insulin, making the following energy dip inevitable. Instead, have a small piece of cake alongside just a couple of nuts or a few pumpkin seeds. (Brings in more protein and fats alongside the carbs)
7. Don’t forget to keep those veggies coming when you can – a home-made soup or lunch could nicely give you 5 or 6 different vegetables without too much thought. Not into soup? Make sure whatever you have has some salad alongside it. Grated carrot with ginger, a few raisins and sprinkled with olive oil and orange juice is rather nice and just a little different
8. Don’t go to a party hungry or thirsty/dehydrated. If you do go to a party hungry, you will be fighting your body’s urges for sugar, as blood sugar will be low. Ensure you have a good snack before you go. Watch your portion sizes too when you are there. If you’re with family and friends, and the buffet is calling, then have a little of things you fancy, that way you won’t feel deprived whilst sticking to smaller portions. Don’t stay by the buffet! Good hydration before, during and after is also so important. For ladies, good hydration will be more beneficial than makeup. Good hydration will certainly reduce any hangover you might end up with if you have too much alcohol. Make sure you are drinking water alongside the alcohol during the evening, and also before you go to bed to undo some of the damage before you sleep. Your body will you sleep to repair itself and it needs the raw material – water
9. Make good alcohol choices. I know this one is particularly hard when enjoying yourself but avoiding sweet or creamy drinks is really key here. Champagne, dry wine or spirits are good choices, try staying away from baileys, beer, sherry, port (apart from with that piece of stilton!) and other sweet drinks. Red wine is also good because it contains anti-oxidants which repair cellular damage.
10. Don’t forget about trying to have your normal quantity of sleep (should be 6-8hrs nightly). This is when the body heals itself. If you have had some late nights and know some more are coming, have a rest or “40 winks” during the day. Make some quiet time and listen to some soothing music or try a guided meditation if you have not done this before. Michael Sealey on Utube is very good and has a range of guided meditations you can do. (Works wonders for my husband and practice manager Wilf!)
And finally, if you do overindulge don’t beat yourself up, after all it is Christmas!
Just enjoy and get back on track the next day … or perhaps the day after!