The Christmas period is notoriously a time to indulge, but these days the festivities of socialising, eating and drinking more than usual start well before Christmas Day. The work Christmas party tends to be early in the month, then the rest of the month is full catching up with friends for a Christmas drink or two! Don’t let this be the green light to overindulge for the whole month though. You can still enjoy all the festivities of the season and get through the Christmas period without too much impact on your health and waistline.
Try our top tips for a healthier Christmas Season:
Plan in Advance and Be More in Control
If you kind of know how the month of December is going to be like with parties and socialising you can plan ahead to avoid excessive eating and drinking at every gathering. Think about which event may be more indulgent then the other; which event drinking can be avoided; and which event healthier foods options are available. If your holiday schedule doesn’t include a party everyday, why not have a day of healthy eating in between.
Give your Liver a Day Off
Try to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, herbal teas and fresh veggie juices throughout the festive period. On your healthy eating days really focus on avoiding alcohol, cutting out refined sugar and including foods that support your liver.
- Berries contain the potent antioxidant anthocyanins. It is the anthocyanins in plants, fruit and flowers that provide some of the deep red to blue colouring or pigment. The antioxidants are free-radical scavengers and they help regulate liver function. Unfortunately, fresh berries aren’t in season in December, but look out for blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, bilberries and cherries in the frozen food section of your supermarket. Frozen is just as good and easily added to smoothies!
- Cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and horseradish contain glucosinolates. These sulphur-containing compounds help to activate liver detoxification enzymes. Cruciferous vegetables are in season and found abundantly in the winter months!
- Green tea is a source of catechins that have been shown to encourage the production of detoxification enzymes. The polyphenols in green tea have exceptional antioxidant potential, which may limit the damaging toxic effects alcohol does to our cells.
Take a Digestive Enzyme and Microbiotic Daily
Digestive enzymes will assist your body to break down the foods you eat, so on those occasions where you overindulge a digestive enzyme may help to reduce bloating and the feeling of excessive fullness. For best results take one capsule before each main meal daily. Taking a probiotic daily will give you a continued support of good bacteria throughout the month. Excessive refined sugar, coffee and alcohol can all disrupt the good bacteria in your gut, so particularly during the month of December it is important to keep a good balance in order to support your digestive system, immune system and mood.
Make Healthy Meal Options
Christmas doesn’t have to be only about roasted potatoes, stuffing, gravy, mince pies and endless Quality Street chocolates. If you are going out to a restaurant for a meal, choose a dish that includes a quality lean meat and plenty of veggies. If you are invited to someone’s house, ask if you can bring a dish for everyone to share – roasted veggies, a warm vegetable soup, a homemade dessert with less sugar than a store-bought dessert. There are plenty of recipe ideas online these days to give you a healthy alternative to many dishes and meals.
Continue to be Active
It’s easy to get lazy and skip our usual exercise and fitness routines over the holidays and that’s fine if you don’t stop moving all together. Don’t let Christmas and knowing the New Years Resolution isn’t far away to be an excuse to not exercise. Come January you will thank yourself that you stayed active in December and didn’t gain too much if any excess weight over the holidays. Keep up your exercise routine on your free days throughout the month to burn off any extra calories. On Christmas Day and Boxing Day, encourage everyone after lunch to go for a walk instead of taking a nap on the sofa. Not only will you be breathing in some crisp fresh air, but the little bit of exercise on these days will aid digestion after a heavy lunch.
Go easy on the drinks
Whether it’s beer, wine, cocktails, spirits, Bailey’s, prosecco or champagne they all have one thing in common and it is that they contain extra calories that soon add up. So, do try to be mindful on how much you are drinking, and try alternating an alcoholic drink with a glass of water, if possible!