In Australia, Christmas falls over our long hot Summer, which means that stuffing our faces and drinking too much over our festive season can bring tears and anti-social behaviour when we’re supposed to be running free with the wind in our hair along the beach and diving through the waves.
Each year we face the same issues, and each year we succumb to the sweetness of family time, cakes and gin and tonic.
So this is what I do to help move through the week full of laughter and fun without rolling out the other sideâ€¦.
1. I give myself PERMISSION to eat the yummy things, and relax with a glass or two.
This might seem passive, though your perception of that ‘hand-to-mouth’ action is a big and important part of your success. If you go into the festive season worried about all that sugar, dessert and indulgence, you’re more likely to dive into the hole and not be able to swim back out. Especially when you’re beating yourself up for it.
2. I make sure I stay hydrated each day.
Simple yes; easyâ€¦.. not so much. When your body is dehydrated, everything is under pressure. You are also more tired, and you will lack motivation, and may find it far too easy to use sugar as a pick me up (chocolate-covered peanuts are my weakness, and they’re so small and easy to find when you fall into a hypoglycemic spiral mid-afternoon). Drink water in between all meals, and in small amounts regularly throughout the day.
3. I do some kind of exercise every day.
Our family are quite active, so if it’s not a run around the beach and the streets, we’re doing a workout in the park, or playing tennis. When everyone else is doing it, it’s definitely much easier; but organising a game of frisbee or cricket in the backyard can be quite appealing to most at Christmas.
Moving your body will create flow and oxygenation and increase energy levels. A good bit of fresh air also livens up the system.
4. I always ensure that veggies are the biggest part of my meal.
I am an eater of all foods, as long as they’re food. By that I mean, I don’t eat ‘food-like products’. And boy are they hanging around. If I’m getting a large amount of vegetables at each meal, I am confident I’m still getting in the nutrients I need to thrive each day (even if those nutrients were drained with a couple of champagnes the evening before).
5. I take some probiotics; vitamin C; and B with me.
The alcohol and sugar that are almost definitely going to pass my lips are going to put some strain on the good bacteria in my gutâ€¦I know this. So for this reason I take along my probiotics and make sure I’m having them each morning. Alcohol depletes your C and B vitamins, so I make sure I’m getting those supplements daily also. If I can, I’ll also take some slippery elm powder, as a good source of prebiotics to keep feeding my good bacteria (all those vegetables will do this too).
A small note on B vitamins: they nourish the nervous system, and can reduce stress. Stress can increase at these times because you’re usually spending a large amount of time with family in a compressed and pressurised environmentâ€¦â€¦soâ€¦B vitamins.
My main focus is to have some fun whilst saving as much of my health as possible. I mostly give my efforts to keeping myself well mentally and not beating myself up if I go a touch overboard on all the good stuff. If I am fit and healthy leading into the week, and then get back into that lifestyle when it’s all said and done, it won’t cause too much anxiety.
Like I said, when I give myself permission to indulge a little, I find the bulge isn’t as much of a drama. Just loosen the reigns and take each day with the above in mind, I am sure Santa will see you helping yourself as much as you can and give you a little something extra in your sack.
Nutritionist Eden Health Retreat