‘Tis the season to be jolly. It’s time to eat, drink, share time with loved ones, reflect on the year that was and welcome in a brand new one full of possibility. However, it can also be the time for overindulgence; too much rich food, too much alcohol and not enough exercise. Whilst we are not about to suggest that you shouldn’t have your favourite treats or take a slight break from exercise, there are ways you can make this time of year healthier than past ones. If you have been wondering how you are going to survive the party season, don’t worry, we have dedicated this week’s blog to making healthier choices.
Keep Up the Exercise: One of the first things that usually falls by the wayside is exercise, so let’s acknowledge that fact and address it. You might not be able to do your regular exercise routine, so make some small adjustments:
- If you attend regular fitness classes and can't make your usual time, do something else like walk, jog, hike or swim.
- Schedule your workouts just as you would any other appointment, set a reminder in your phone!
- Be honest about your schedule, instead of trying to squeeze exercise in, take other things out so it does in fact fit in.
Just Say No: This tip goes for food as well as social activities. It's the biggest advice we can give you in order to save your waistline and mental health! We tend to want to catch up with EVERYONE at this time of year. But if you haven’t seen them for 6 months, surely it can wait until after the Xmas craziness. Schedule your catch-ups so that you leave time for yourself to relax, even if it is just one night a week, you need to regroup and recharge your batteries. In regards to food, you may not be aware of how much extra you're eating, office parties, catch-ups, and people going on baking frenzies are all opportunities to eat extra. Just think twice before you eat the food, decide if you really need it.
Get Prepared: Stock the freezer with healthy meals, it’s busy over the holidays and it's easy to make bad food choices when you have limited time. So take defensive action ahead of time by cooking healthy meals you can freeze and re-heat in a jiffy.
Shopping: Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy items, if you don’t have many treats in the house you are less likely to indulge. Especally make sure you have healthy snacks, nuts, fruits etc as it is often the eating between meals that really bumps up the calorie intake.
Occupy The Relatives: If you're having your extended family staying with you there is a tendency to have friction at times. So, keep the focus on fun, not alcohol and food. Alcohol can exacerbate situations that are maybe, well let’s say...strained. Maybe come up with some new family traditions, or take day trips. You may even come up with a project you can all do together, organising family photos, creating homemade Xmas decorations or a building project of some sort (don’t you need a new back deck?).
Surviving Xmas Day: So now it’s Xmas Day, what do you do?
- Start with a healthy brekky, a bowl of porridge with berries and probiotic yogurt or an omelette with veggies. These will keep you full and reduce snacking.
- Make some healthy swaps, salad for roast veggies, fish or prawns for ham or pork. Seafood is low in fat and high in protein and omega 3, which your heart and waist thank you for.
- A large chilled glass of water before a meal can assist you to feel full.
- Ensure there are a lot of veggies on the table, like cucumber, capsicum, celery, tomato and broccoli. Aim for 50% of your plate being vegetables (excluding potato).
- Have a cup of tea before dessert, it's full of antioxidants and will help fill you up.
- By the way, don't eat food that has been sitting out for more than an hour or two. Bacteria and other organisms can grow rapidly at room temperature and lead to food poisoning.
- Now let’s tackle the booze intake:
- If you’re going to drink, try a white-based spirit like vodka or gin with soda water, add a fresh slice of lime and/or mint to dress it up.
- Spritz champagne with soda water to keep the alcohol intake down.
- Make cocktails with lots of fruit and minimal alcohol.
- Pretend! Yes there are plenty of drinks you can make look like you are having alcohol when you aren’t; vodka, lime and soda without the vodka, and alcohol free champagne are just two.
- Aim to have no more than one alcoholic drink an hour, alternate this with water or juice.
Surviving New Years Eve: It’s most likely that the majority of us will be attending a party for NYE. Things can tend to get a little out of hand, so in addition to our tips for booze above, here are our handy survival hints.
- Have a Pre-Party Snack: Having a snack will help you to resist the not so healthy canapés. Also, if you have a high protein snack it will help slow the stomach emptying, which delays the effects alcohol.
- Hydration is Key: Keep your water bottle with you at all times. You should be drinking eight, glasses of water each day, even more on the day of and after a big night. The diuretic effects of alcohol means you need to be adequately hydrated to help stop that headache the next day.
- Ice Ice Baby: Keep it on the rocks the melting ice will dilute the alcohol content of the drink and make the drink last longer.
- Tap-out Early: Stop drinking way before your bed time, this allows time for the alcohol levels in your body to drop before going to sleep. The result is less disruption to your sleep patterns.
- Pre-hangover Avoidance: Take over-the-counter pain relief before the headache hits.
- Did we mention HYDRATE? Get plenty of water before the old head hits the pillow.
- Get Plenty of Sleep: Arrange your schedule so that you can sleep in and not have to do anything important the next day!
What if you have followed all this advice and you still have a hangover? What do you do? Well once again, plenty of water and over the counter pain relief will help. Also, try being horizontal in a nice quiet dark room. Breakfast may also aid in recovery, try an omelette with mushrooms, spinach, and tomato. This nourishing meal contains vitamins B and C as well as folate which all help the body combat a hangover. If you can't face a cooked breakfast then have a smoothie made with coconut water and fruits high in potassium (bananas, oranges or kiwi) to replenish your electrolytes. Still feeling bad for over drinking or over eating...? Then take heart and forgive yourself; studies have found that people who have an attitude of forgiveness and self-compassion after one high-calorie setback are less likely to keep bingeing!
Western Wellness Team
(Your friendly neighbourhood yogis)