Christmas is coming – watch out!

The holiday season is approaching fast and it is at times like these that our good intentions with food choices and diet can go completely awry!  Its one thing to have a few treats but another when those treats derail your ability to avoid your ‘trigger foods” which then sends you into downward spiral of going back to your old habits.

I can’t guarantee these tips will help you to avoid too much Christmas cake and mince pies but a little mindfulness beforehand may be helpful in the long run.

 Be mindful about eating and remember what you have accomplished
  1. If you have managed to make changes to your diet and have benefitted from them try to make sure you have our ‘go to’ foods in your larder so you can make a healthy choice.  You could make sure you have a loaf of Gluten free seeded bread in your freezer to eat instead of bread along with some Date protein balls for when you need a quick pick me up.  See my recipes here: http://www.eatwellnutrition.co.uk/blog/gluten-free-seeded-bread#more-457  and http://www.eatwellnutrition.co.uk/blog/date-and-almond-balls
  2. If you over indulge one day then maybe avoid breakfast the next day – semi-fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and reducing calories overall will help not only your digestion but boost your metabolic rate.
  3. If you drink have a ‘one day on’ and ‘one day off’ alcohol policy which lets you join in but allows you to reduce your overall alcohol intake.  If you’re out and about become everyone’s best friend and offer to be the nominated driver!
 If things have got a little out of hand or you suspect they might then here area few ideas to support your system and reduce the worse symptoms over-indulging can bring:
  1. Keep hydrated: fluids help to flush your system out and supports the body in keeping hydrated.  Drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink and even if you’re not imbibing this will help to keep your digestive system functioning efficiently.
  2. If you’re ill (vomiting and diarrhea) having some electrolytes on hand eg Dioralyte to keep your minerals balanced. Coconut water also contains electrolytes to help the body recover.
Some handy additions to your medicine cabinet

There are some great natural alternatives that you can have to hand to help ease your through this party period:

  1. I often recommend my clients keep a pot of digestive enzymes to hand which help to break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates and increase absorption of nutrients.  They are generally very safe to use (those with peptic ulcers or gastritis should avoid) and can really help to minimise bloating, flatulence and feeling ‘bunged up’.
  2. Probiotics are supportive of digestive function and a supplement can help to boost your beneficial bacteria that may have taken a hit during the season.  Over 70% of our immune cells are found in our gut so making sure its in tip top order will help to protect you.
  3.  Slippery elm powder is will help to ‘coat’ the stomach lining and keep in protected while healing takes place.  A great remedy if you have had any kind of food poisoning or upset tummy.  Marshmallow has similar properties and both of these herbs are useful to calm the gut.

(If you have any health conditions or are taking prescribed medication, it would be sensible to take the advice of your health practitioner before using supplements)

If you’re going to be travelling long distances be prepared beforehand rather than having to rely on service stations, airports or train stations for your food. 
  1. Take a homemade salad that contains some protein, a date ball for your pudding and a smoothie to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
  2.  Snacks such as plain nuts and seeds are a nutritious alternative to chocolate and sweets.  Make a little snack pot containing: pumpkin and sunflower seeds, toasted coconut flakes, raw cacao nibs, flaked almonds and walnut halves.  Keeping this topped up also means that you have something to nibble on when everyone else is passing around the chocs and you want to keep to your healthy habits.
The aftermath……

Ok, so things didn’t quite go according to plan and you ended up consuming much more than you needed, eating and drinking lots of stuff that you know doesn’t agree with you and are now feeling sluggish, bloated and what’s worse angry and frustrated with yourself! Don’t keep beating yourself up with guilt – its happened, its been and gone and now you can put yourself back on that path to better health again.

Your body will be in an inflammatory state (digestive dysfunction, spotty skin, extra weight etc) so you want to get back into an anti-inflammatory state and all of these things will help:

Omega-3 fatty acids: anti-inflammatory oil fish -3-4 times a week if you can manage it but if not take a good quality fish oil supplement.  Veggie sources include flax and hemp seeds, walnuts or a marine algae supplement.

  1. Ginger is an excellent anti-inflammatory.  It is very calming and helps avoid nausea and ease tummy cramps.  A really nice way to take it is to grate a knob of fresh ginger (no need to peel), add half a squeezed lemon, a cinnamon stick and a teaspoon of raw honey (you could use manuka here) and add hot water.  Let is steep for a few mintues and the strain before drinking.
  2. If you are a meat eater then don’t waste all those bones (beef, turkey, chicken etc).  Make yourself a big batch of bone broth which helps to protect and heal the mucosal lining of the digestive tract that may get disrupted by eating unfamiliar foods.  Freeze any excess to use in soups, gravies, stews etc.
Avoid stress …… (ha!ha!)

If only life were that simple.  Along with all the fun there is nearly always an element of stress which is hopefully short term and something the body can deal with.  However, long term chronic stress can have serious health implications so trying to stay calm and have some time to yourself is important when you are running around trying to keep the whole show on the road.

Chronic stress also effects your appetite for sweet, sugary and salty snacks which of course is usually what’s on offer so its easy to get into the habit of constantly eating ‘pick me ups’.  One of our stress hormones, cortisol, is a powerful fat-storage signal within our fat cells, especially those in the abdominal area which is why chronic stress encourages our body to store fat around the middle.

Stimulants such as caffeine, cigarettes, sugary drinks, chocolate and alcohol – all of which are in abundance during the festive season are often used to help in stressful situations but they act as ‘stressors’ themselves causing cortisol levels to rise, blood sugar imbalance and an increase in appetite.

Try to get plenty of sleep

Research shows that poor sleepers also have more difficulty with weight management so try to keep to a sensible sleeping pattern as much as you are able.  All kinds of healing and regeneration takes place during sleep and our bodies need to have that switch off time to facilitate that.  Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can cause cortisol level to rise and an increase in appetite.

So, a few ideas to keep you feeling in control but also having fun during this festive season and remember you’ve can always make a New Year’s Resolution …….

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

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