It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year – anyone who knows me knows how much I love Christmas and everything that comes with it. Christmas parties are a great time to let loose, celebrate with friends and family and enjoy delicious food & drinks. However, like anything – too much of a ‘good’ thing can knock us out of balance – late nights, rich foods and too much booze for a whole month can leave us with low mood, feeling tired, run down and further away from our health goals than ever.
Now there’s no need to avoid the parties altogether. Socialising brings many happy benefits – so here’s my top tips to help keep your body glowing when the cocktails come a’calling!
If you’re heading from work to Christmas drinks, be prepared before. Eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch, packed full with vegetables and some healthy fats and protein. Then have a heathy snack e.g. oat cakes and hummus or apple & nut butter, before you go and meet your friends. You are more likely to make healthy choices if you’re satisfied than if you’re starving hungry
Likewise, prep for your hangover – I love a big egg-based breakfast with a green smoothie. Your liver is in need of protein to function optimally and the green vegetables in the smoothie contain much needed vitamins and minerals you may be lacking for due to all the booze. Whilst a greasy pizza may be more tempting, it’s super difficult to digest and your liver struggles with melted cheese / fried fatty foods – extending those hangover vibes for longer!
Believe me, I know how easy it is to get carried away with a night out but pacing your drinks is the ultimate way to be more balanced. Start with a soft-drink (preferably low-sugar like sparkling water and fresh fruit juice), then with each alcoholic drink order a glass of water. Many people down their drinks too quickly simply because they are thirsty – enjoy and savour your drinks, it’s not a race!
Consider whether you actually need to drink at all – there’s loads of amazing alcohol free drinks now. YOU decide if you want to drink, don’t let others pressure you into it. If you do, great – enjoy it. If you don’t, great – enjoy that!
Staying hydrated in the winter months is KEY to keeping your health tip top. Not only does it ensure your immune system is able to work optimally (your mucus membranes need hydration and they are one of the FIRST lines of defence) but if you are drinking alcohol you need to step up your hydration game because as you know – it’s really dehydrating on the body.
Sleep is your friend
Drinking alcohol and changing our bedtimes plays havoc with our sleep. Sleep is the KING of health – it restores, repairs and rejuvenates all of your body systems. Just as you’re planning your nights out, plan your nights in too! Try to take at least 3 consecutive days off drinking and relish in JOMO (joy of missing out).
Take full advantage of your days off to have a pamper. Pop on a Christmas movie, snuggle up in your PJs on the sofa with a herbal tea or hot chocolate. Try yoga or mediation before bed, use essential oils like lavender and vetiver and read a good book. Wholesome practices like this contrast with party vibes and you can find joys in the ordinary.
Creatures of habit
Sticking to our healthy habits during the festive season can be super difficult and bring about anxiety and feelings of failure. This often leads to the ‘F*ck it’ moment… “I’ll start again in the new year”. I get it. But your body will thank you if you can keep a couple of your healthy habits going. Relax – take the pressure off, you ARE allowed to enjoy yourself – but try hold onto at least 3 non-negotiables. Cheat days (or cheat months) can be incredibly detrimental to our relationship with food. The binge/restrict cycle is confusing for the body but also sends backwards messages to how you view food.
Non-negotiables in the festive season can be more relaxed than the rest of the year, but the key is consistency. Here’s some ideas for non negotiables to try yourself (pick 3 and do them consistently throughout December);
- Drink 2L of water a day
- Whatever you eat – eat it mindfully, slowly and taste every flavour
- Enjoy a nourishing breakfast (including fresh veg, fruit & protein) every day
- Get outside during daylight hours for 20mins
- Get moving – at least 3 times a week, do something that gets you out of breath and moves your body
- On days you don’t exercise, take the stairs, park the car 10mins away and walk, stretch & stand
- Meditate for 10mins daily
- Eat the rainbow – whether at home or out and about, opt for a variety of colourful whole foods across the week
- Have vegetables at each meal
- 8 hours sleep as often as you possibly can (put down the phone before bed!)
- Take healthy snacks with you so you’re prepared
The most important thing is to be kind to yourself – this isn’t about perfection. Every new day is a fresh start, each bite a new opportunity to feel great. Food should bring joy – so relish in it. Eat the mince pie but instead of wolfing it down then feeling guilty – enjoy it slowly, savouring each crumble of pastry. Be with your friends and family – put away the guilt and bask in the warmth of festive feels.