Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I basically turn into an elf on December 1st. Decorations up, Christmas playlists on repeat, and the sheer happiness every time I see Christmas lights or decorations in the streets.
I also love the sense of anticipation, knowing that soon I will be reunited with my family in Italy for cuddles, incredibly delicious food and so much laughter.
Having said that, this festive time can also be challenging when it comes to sustaining our healthier lifestyle throughout the month. We all know that we won’t be eating differently only on December 24th 25th and 26th…let’s not lie to each other….
December is generally full of parties and festive gatherings, meeting with friends on weekends to look at Christmas lights and have that delicious hot chocolate at the Christmas market or that trip at Winter Wonderland where we just have to have mince pies and mulled wine…
Can anyone relate?
Well, far from me to tell you not to enjoy any of this when you are out and about. Trust me. It is after all, the most wonderful time of the year!
Having said that, there are also things we can do when we are home to try and support our body and mind during this fun but hectic time, to avoid feeling too exhausted, bloated and moody as we go along.
STAY HYDRATED AND DECREASE THAT HANGOVER RISK
Water makes up 50 -70% of your body weight, and is necessary for many functions in our body including nutrients delivery, maintaining our cell’s fluids, support waste elimination and supporting cognition amongst others.1
Alcohol is diuretic and can make you lose more water than you actually take in, leading to dehydration, which in turn may cause symptoms such as fatigue, dry mouth, headache and thirst.
If you know you are going to be enjoying eggnog, mulled wine or Christmas martinis at a party, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, have a glass of water in between drinks and again a big glass before bed. Your body will thank you for it!
EAT A HEALTHIER SNACK BEFORE HEADING TO A PARTY
This way you will avoid overdoing it on the canapes. Note I said OVERDOING it. This means I am not suggesting you avoid them completely, that would just be mean. But if you go on an empty stomach, you may just dive into those mini burgers face first. Bye bye dignity.
Have something light that combines complex carbs, proteins and unsaturated fat: wholewheat pitta bread with a slice of cheese and turkey, or have some apple slices with a nut or seed butter on top. Boom. You are ready to go.2
STEP AWAY FROM THE FOOD TABLE…
If you spend the whole party right next to the table that’s covered in canapes and sweets, your eyes will always wander and you may just be more prone to mindlessly reaching for them.
Find a different spot to enjoy the conversation, or you know what’s even better? Get your pals and head for the dancefloor… Shake that booty and have fun, it’s a party after all!
MAKES SURE YOU KEEP YOUR NUTRIENT DENSE DIET IN BETWEEN ALL YOUR SOCIAL EVENTS
Stick to your healthier routine on all the other days, help fill your body and mind with nutrients to help it manage better those days and nights of Christmassy fun.
Make sure your meals have half plate filled with colourful, non-starchy veggies of your choice, add a source of animal of plant protein (chicken, fish, eggs, legumes, tofu) and some complex carbs (sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, quinoa, buckwheat…). 3
If possible, enjoy your three daily meals which, if well balanced, should help you to avoid snacking in between, allowing your body to fully digest what you just ate and rest until the next meal.
GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP
Have you ever noticed how you feel after a sleepless night? Ever felt the day after mood swings, fatigue, cravings and struggle to concentrate? Yup, me too.
Sleep may just be the most important health parameter we need to take care of, as it allows the body to slow down its pace and focus on recovery processes (including cell cleansing and regenerating) and support your physical and mental health the following day (but also long term).
In between your party nights, make sure you stick to a bedtime routine, going to sleep and waking up at the same time. Help your body wind down at least an hour before by switching off all your laptops, tv, ipads as they emit blue light which can impair melatonin production (your sleep hormone and a fabulous antioxidant too!)4. Try and have your last meal at least 3 hours before bed, so your body can fully digest and focus on melatonin production.
To calm your mind and thoughts, different things will work for different people: a hot bath with essential oils, meditating, reading a book, a night time herbal tea, writing in a journal the last thoughts of the day.. Do what works for you, this is your own time.
I hope these tips will help you have fun whilst still feel great during the upcoming Christmas season. Let the Festivities commence!
1.Wittbrodt MT, Millard-Stafford M (2018) Dehydration Impairs Cognitive Performance: A Meta-analysis. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 50, 2360-2368.
2. How To Stop Your Cravings for Carbs. Cleveland Clinic.Accessed November 15th, 2022 . https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-stop-carb-cravings/
3. BANT Wellbeing Guidelines. Accessed 15th November 2022. https://bant.org.uk/bant-wellbeing-guidelines/
4. Tähkämö L, Partonen T, Pesonen AK. Systematic review of light exposure impact on human circadian rhythm. Chronobiol Int. 2019 Feb;36(2):151-170. doi: 10.1080/07420528.2018.1527773. Epub 2018 Oct 12. PMID: 30311830.