Ah, the festive functions, the BBQ’s, those awful compound chocolate santas! Christmas can be a long few weeks of bad food, late nights and overused credit cards. Wouldn’t it be nice to get to get through the festive season healthier and happier than when it began?
With a bit of awareness about what’s important, you can. Plan on eating well, sleeping well and choosing your social occasions and gifts well. Avoid getting caught up in the over consumption game, food and alcohol wise, but also gift wise. The financial stress is not worth it.
Food, Food and more food!
Generally we gain a kilogram per year and my guess is most of that happens between December and February.
Having a (mostly) clean Christmas doesn’t have to be hard. Do you really enjoy those dried out mince tarts and sickly sweet candy canes? If you do, great! The trick to having your cake and eating it too is how much you eat. Indulge your tastebuds but stop before that heavy feeling kicks in. Better yet, get creative in the kitchen and make some slightly more wholesome versions of Christmas classics yourself. You’ll know exactly what you’re eating and will be less likely to overeat something you’ve laboured over. Saviour it instead.
Also, be sure to keep up some of your routines. Having a good breakfast, a veggie packed smoothie every day, or a walk before the kids wake will all stop you veering too far off course.
Late nights and overindulgence is the easiest way to put a stop to your exercise routine. But it’s also natural for your routine to change over a holiday period. Rather than expect to keep up the exact same type and amount of exercise, why not have a holiday plan that involves hikes with the family, and walks with friends rather than coffee dates.
If anxiety is usually a problem for you, you may find this time of year even more difficult. The pressure from many directions can be overwhelming. Budgeting for gifts, cooking, planning time away, hoping everyone gets along. A simple exercise like visualising your ideal Christmas and then writing it down can help. Once you have written down the key elements of a wonderful holiday, think about how you can work towards that becoming a reality. Do you need to ask for help from certain people? Finish work a few days earlier? Or have a gift making session with the kids? Anything you can do to take the pressure off will help reduce your anxiety and stress.
Extra help for your body and mind
Your liver is often the loser over the holidays. Detoxification of harmful substances is a continual, daily process, all year round. And it’s not just down to your liver. Our cells poop out their own waste each day. True story! All 100 trillion of them. Pollution, pesticides, herbicides, food additives, cleaning products, personal care products, alcohol and prescription drugs all require neutralisation and then removal from the body. If detoxification processes can’t keep up and the body starts to become toxic, the result is tiredness, digestive upsets, poor skin, headaches, food or chemical sensitivities, etc. The list is long. So helping your liver out over the Christmas period is even more important, if you want to emerge into the New Year feeling your best. I recommend taking a liver herb such as Milk Thistle or Schisandra chinensis to support the liver cells in their quest to keep up with the increased work load. Starting the day with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar is also great for most people. As the sourness hits the taste buds it sends a message via the vagus nerve down to your liver and stimulates activity.
If you have bloating, constipation or diarhoea at the best of times, overindulging could turn up the volume on your discomfort. Try to minimize snacking and focus on the veggie and protein portion of meals, while keeping carbohydrates and sugars low. Alcohol has a terrible effect on the beneficial flora in our digestive tract, so a daily probiotic over this time can work wonders. Go for the ones that have to be refrigerated and don’t expect to get the same effect from a yoghurt product.
Vitamins to the rescue
Lack of sleep, stress and alcohol both take a toll on your B vitamin levels so consider taking a B complex supplement to top yourself up. They are safe with all medications and could prevent that slippery slope into stressville. Always take B vitamins with breakfast or lunch rather than later in the day as they can keep you awake.
Magnesium may be a welcome addition to your routine if you find yourself short tempered, with twitchy muscles, constipated or craving sugar. Be sure to get 300mg daily of a good form of the mineral (not oxide).
If the holidays are a sad time for any reason and low mood tends to creep up on you, I would consider a nervous system tonic such as WIthania somnifera or even St Johns wort. The latter should only be taken with the advice of a herbalist, but can be very effective in the right dose and for long enough. Withania is readily available and acts to bolster your adrenal resilience in the face of busy times and extra stress. It can take a few weeks to kick in so plan ahead and nurture your nervous system for a month or so before you know you’ll need it.
Lastly, consider helping someone else this Christmas. Maybe the elderly lady in your street is alone and would love help with her decorations. Perhaps there is a charity you can volunteer with, or a friend you can invite to your Christmas dinner. Being a part of someone else’s Christmas joy reminds us what it’s all about. Being grateful for your family and friends, and celebrating with them at this time of year.
From my family to yours, happiest of seasons greetings.
May you have a restful but fun, indulgent but healthy festive season!