Christmas should be the time to be merry and bright but let’s face it, it can be exhausting. Rushing around and keeping everybody happy can be stressful and exhausting. Add in extra parties and socialising and the immune system can really struggle. How many of you get a cold or virus as soon as you finish work for the holidays? Then there is the festive food and hangovers which can leave us feeling sluggish to say the least. So overall our bodies and our minds get take a bit of a battering over Christmas.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, with a bit of thought and planning you can enjoy all of the good things of Christmas, without feeling like you have been run over by a bus.
So here are my top tips for a happy and healthy Christmas:
1. Be kind to yourself
If you do nothing else, please give yourself a break. Sometimes you have to say no and just stay at home to catch up on some rest. You don’t have to have the perfect Instagrammable Christmas either. Life is too short to make your own stuffing, crackers, cakes etc. If you enjoy doing these things then amazing, go ahead, but if you feel overwhelmed by it all, then it’s time to pop along to your favourite supermarket and buy things ready-made. I can assure you – nobody will care or notice!
2. Be aware of your blood sugar
This is the most important thing when it comes to diet and nutrition. Your body loves a balanced blood sugar response – your energy, hormones, moods, sleep, immune system and weight will all thank you if your blood sugar is under control. Christmas can totally hijack your blood sugar with temptations all around.
In the very simplest terms, food containing refined carbohydrates (the beige buffet, pastries, mince pies, baked or fried products, chocolates, desserts, and alcohol) will rapidly rise your blood sugar. The quicker it rises, the faster it falls. The consequence of this is that you feel rubbish, have an energy slump, and have become a fat making machine. You may have the view that you will ‘diet in January’ but you will be making that job much harder for yourself when that time comes.
I’m not saying that you need a Christmas based on salad leaves, but I encourage you to seek out protein and naturally colourful foods. Fill your plate with these alongside just a small amount of beige. Vegetables and protein (meat, fish, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, yoghurt, avocado) will flatten your blood sugar spikes, help you to be a fat burner with balanced moods and energy.
As a party guide, it’s usually better to eat something before you go if you know it will be a party food buffet. You can then try to find the protein and vegetable foods to nibble on when you are there – think nuts, grilled or baked chicken or fish, carrot sticks and humus. Just by changing these, your energy will thank you the next day.
3. Count your drinks
Now I sound like a real party pooper, but the reality is that alcohol usually makes you feel great for a few hours and terrible the next day. Alcohol can disrupt your blood sugar, leading to cravings for carbohydrates, it can disrupt sleep, and energy and lead to weight gain. You don’t have to be alcohol free (although I do admire the fact more and more people are choosing to party without alcohol), but my advice is to drink mindfully. Buy drinks by the glass not the bottle so you know what you have had and alternate with water or a non-alcoholic drink. Drink a lot of water before bed as well – your liver needs it to help to detoxify the alcohol.
I am a big fan of supplements, especially in the short term when food choices are not so good, stress levels are raised, or we just need a bit of damage limitation. Good quality supplements (not the ones you find at the supermarket) can give you a welcome boost. Here are my favourites for a calm, merry and bright Christmas:
Liver Support. Your liver dreads Christmas, richer foods and alcohol all give your liver a hard time. Herbs and spices such as milk thistle and turmeric are traditional remedies to support liver function. Artichoke contains a component that help bile production which in turn helps to digest fats so can be helpful if you suffer with digestive symptoms the day after a night out with alcohol and rich foods.
I like Cytoplan Cytoprotect Liver Support as it combines all these herbs in a one a day capsule
Herbal Adaptogens. Adaptogens are a class of herbs that are believed to support the nervous system and nourish your adrenals (a little gland that has a big job in terms of stress hormone production, blood pressure regulation and the stress response).
Personally I take SuperNova Women 01 everyday of the year. It contains my favourite adaptogen – ashwagandha, along with other adaptogens and vegan protein. I start the day with Supernova blended with some plant milk, berries and seeds which supports both blood sugar balance and the stress response.
Magnesium. Magnesium is a co-factor for hundreds of the bodies processes and so it has a big positive on the way that we think and feel – mood, energy and sleep are the main things that I suggest magnesium for. Magnesium is also one of your electrolytes and so it can be depleted if you are dehydrated (too much alcohol!). Magnesium comes in a number of forms; my favourite is Magnesium Glycinate. TerraNova do an amazing magnesium complex that is particularly good for calming and sleep.
Vitamin D, C and Zinc. In my mind these are essential from at least the start of December (or any other time you are under stress or you are in contact with lots of people). These are the basic nutrients for the immune system. You will encounter lots of bugs and viruses as different people get together and it is likely that your immune response will be a little reduced if you have had nights out or are feeling the stresses of the season. Take my immune nutrients with beta glucans
Viridian Nutrition have a great an all-in-one beta glucan complex which is always top of my winter wellness recommendations.
Hopefully this provides some tools to tackle Christmas head on and make the most of this happy season with friends and family. Wishing you lots of fun, health and happiness x
Joanne is an experienced Nutritional Therapist, based at Amaranth Wellbeing. Joanne supports clients with realistic, achievable plans to help them feel content with their health. Joanne offers health testing, diet analysis and supplement review programmes so that clients can be sure that the actions they are taking are personalised and effective for them.
Joanne is also the founder and director of Amaranth Wellbeing. Amaranth is a health, wellbeing and organic beauty store based in Cheshire and at www.amaranth-wellbeing.com. Amaranth offers an extensive range of the very best health and wellbeing products selected by a team of nutritional therapists and health advisors. All of the products mentioned here can be found at Amaranth instore and online.
To book a free health review with Joanne for personalised nutrition advice, please click here.