Rich mince pies, soothing liqueurs and never-ending chocolates passed around the workplace....yes, it’s that time of year again when our good intentions are tested to their maximum. With so many things to organise and Christmas parties to go to, it’s not surprising many of us end up tired, stressed and making the wrong food choices.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a party pooper to keep your body feeling in tip top condition. Just follow some simple guidelines, use a sprinkling of self-discipline, and you can still indulge in your favourite festive food and drink and have plenty of energy left for last-minute shopping too!
1. Go easy on the booze
Ok, I promise I’m not going to be a Scrooge and advise you to avoid alcohol completely. But remember to keep a bit of balance with what you drink and your body will thank you over the next couple of busy weeks. Sticking to the recommended guidelines is the best choice. 3-4 units a day for men (a pint and a half of beer) and 2-3 for women (a small glass of wine).
Although there is no nutrition in alcohol, remember you can still reap health benefits from drinking a glass or two of red wine, as opposed to creamy liqueurs, alcopops and shots. If you’re concerned about calories choose vodka or, even better, mix your drinks with fizzy water or have a glass of water between each drink. Of course, another option is to avoid alcohol completely. According to a campaign from The Daily Telegraph, giving up alcohol for a month can help you look younger, feel brighter and improve your sleep. If you volunteer to do the driving this will make the decision easy for you.
2. Avoid those hangovers
If you drink too much (admit it might happen) then the best advice is to drink a pint of water before bed. Come on, if you can manage those three pints of beer then one more pint of liquid can’t be too hard! Also try to eat something high-protein before bed like cheese on toast as this will help to rebalance blood-sugar levels and absorb the alcohol. The morning after, drink dandelion tea to help detox the liver and eat plenty of lean protein – turkey being the perfect choice!
3. Learn the art of party snacking
Party nibbles like cocktail sausages, mini quiches and canapés will give you a whole meal’s worth of calories in just a few bites. Eat a satisfying meal before you go out and when you reach the party try to have a nutritionally-balanced plate and aim mainly for ‘real food’ like hams, breads and salad, saving space for an indulgent treat too.
4. Eat healthy nibbles
Making sure you always have access to nutritious food during the day will help you resist too many seasonal temptations. Remember, healthy doesn’t have to mean torturous. When the Quality Street is being passed around at work, enjoy a couple, but taking in snacks like tasty tubs of hummus and breadsticks, unsalted nuts, strawberries and cherry tomatoes will help to curb your appetite so you won’t be tempted to just fill up on junk.
5. Eat consciously
When rich food is freely flowing it’s very easy to mindlessly place chocolate-covered nut after salty Pringle after melt-in-the-mouth fudge into your mouth without realising or even really appreciating it. Instead, try to be completely present when you choose and consume your food. Get into the festive spirit and try to feel some gratitude for the delicious food you are eating. Chew thoroughly and slowly and really taste the flavours. You may be surprised at the difference in what you want to eat.
6. Keep your energy levels high
Amidst all the parties and preparation, you need more energy at Christmas than at any other time of year. The most energising foods are fruit and vegetables so include lots in your daily diet. Another good option is to drink juices, either shop-bought or freshly made yourself. Parsley, carrot, ginger, beetroot and spinach all provide high levels of nutrients to energise and refresh your body so you quickly feel good enough for the next night out!
7. Drink plenty of water
Keeping your body hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your body when it’s busy. Water energizes your body by carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells around your system. The best purifier, it helps filter out any toxins which build up quickly from alcohol and fatty, sugary foods. It will also help your digestion tackle those rich foods which will inadvertently make their way to your mouth over the next few weeks.
You can choose to go through the party season over-indulging and then feeling fat and exhausted by Christmas Day, or instead you can exercise a little restraint, keep your energy levels up and give your body the best Christmas present of all - feeling good!
by Kath Webb
by Laura Briggs
by Kath Webb
by Kath Webb
by Jessica Ambrose