Most of us love the Festive Season but many of us are tempted to enjoy it that little bit too much, and all too often come the New Year regret our over indulgence, and despair of our excess weight and that feeling of sluggishness. I’ve learnt the hard way that this can be avoided by planning ahead in order to prepare my body for those delicious festive meals, full of calories that pile on the pounds.
One trick is by consciously watching what I eat in the run up to Christmas by cutting down BEFORE the festivities begin. By doing this I am able to enjoy the festive food and drinks on the day – guilt free. During the two weeks prior to the big day I eat sparingly, less bread, sugary foods and drinks, and I concentrate more on just protein and fibre to fill me up. Come party time I’m more able to enjoy the sweet and festive treats without putting on excess weight.
Another trick is to keep myself physically active. This I find is easy to do, what with all the pre Christmas preparations, the buying of gifts, cooking food and general running around visiting family and friends. Luckily all this frantic activity helps me to burn up excess calories. With festive work parties and friendly gatherings occurring at this time of the year another trick concerns party food. Select the snack foods on offer by picking foods that are bright in colour, and small in portion. Better to sample bite size food offerings, which often include sticks of vegetables and fruits, than to eat a large slice of pie loaded with calories.
During the holiday season many of us will be on the move, aboard trains, planes or in the car driving long distances visiting friends and families. For the journeys I make up and down the country I find it best to pack a healthy snack, rather than be tempted to eat rubbish fast food in the buffet car or motorway cafes. Another important tip is to take time when you eat, this allows your brain to keep up with your fork and can prevent you from overeating! Take at least twenty minutes to complete your meal because this is how long it takes for your brain to recognise that your stomach is full!
Alcohol can increase your appetite and your calorie consumption, consequently you’re less likely to do something active the day after partying if you’ve a hangover. So discipline yourself and don’t drink to excess. Instead use your time in the Christmas break to do something physically active and healthy every day for your health’s sake. It’s a holiday period, so make it special by going for an invigorating a walk or take younger members of the family or friends for a swim or a bike ride. If you do have a gym membership then make the most of it now, because it’s more likely to be nice and quiet with many members away elsewhere.
We all like socialising in the festive season and I’m certainly not one to dissuade you! I’m by no means a “party pooper”. I love a drink or two of white wine but am aware of the implications of partying too much! Another of my tips is to make a conscious effort to drink plenty of water throughout the day and in-between alcoholic drinks. By staying hydrated you will help your body counter the dehydrating affects of both travel and alcohol. Water can also help satiate your appetite because thirst is often mistaken for hunger. And remember alcohol is also fattening. So if you plan to booze, don’t plan to lose… especially your figure! All alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories so try to limit your intake if you want to maintain your jean size! And on a more serious note, alcohol inhibits the breakdown of fat and reduces the absorption of nutrients from your food. Disorders of the eyes, skin, joints, heart, digestion and some cancers are a few health problems linked to alcohol abuse.
In order to avoid hangovers “line” your stomach before a drinking session by eating foods such as milk, bread, potato, and pasta which all take a time to digest. Most of us enjoy a party, whether it’s with workmates or the family, but my advice is…don’t mix drinks, do pace yourself, and prevent dehydration by drinking that water alongside your alcohol. Discover the cleansing effect the water has on your body by drinking a glass or two before going to bed and make sure you consume more liquid than the urine you pass out. OK, you will need to pop out to the loo during the night but you will avoid that morning hangover! After the excesses of the Festive Season I like to give myself and my liver a break, in fact I try to avoid it altogether and give up alcohol for a month. By doing this I hope my liver will benefit, and I know from experience that it makes the whole of me perk up, physically and psychologically.
And one final tip…do the best you can… but do remember to enjoy yourself!
I wish you all a Happy Festive Season and a Healthy New Year!