How to stay Healthy over the Festive Season! – Sue Potgieter

Bonfire night is over and Christmas adverts on the TV have started. As I write this, Christmas is only 6 weeks away. Christmas light displays will be switched on and the general feeling of excitement will begin to build as the days pass by. Along with the excitement comes added stress of course. Have we left anyone off the Christmas card/present list? What do we get for Aunty so and so? And then there’s the Christmas parties… whether office or family parties they often lead to an overindulgence of food or alcohol or both! The aftermath is not as pleasant as the indulging itself and there’s often a sense of why do I do this to myself every year?

Have you ever justified it by saying ‘I deserve it, I’ve worked so hard this year. Why shouldn’t I? I’ll go on a diet/give up alcohol/smoking in the New Year’. But let’s be honest. Who are we kidding? Just ourselves! Festive comes from the Latin word for feast and means a time to celebrate and have fun. So is it possible to have a good time, indulge and still feel good at the end of it? I believe it is, and here are my top tips below for staying healthy during the festive season.

1. Don’t skip breakfast especially if you’re going out in the evening. A bowl of porridge with a handful of berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon stabilises blood sugar levels and helps prepare you for the evening binge!
2. Eat a palm sized piece of protein with every meal to stabilise energy levels and help to prevent fatigue from too many late nights!
3. Stay hydrated by drinking 6-8 glasses of water on the day of the party and also the day after. Alcohol is a diuretic and not drinking enough water can cause headaches and confusion.
4. Drink water/juice/soft drink in between every alcoholic drink and aim to drink no more than one alcoholic drink per hour. Also stick to one type of drink and this will help ease any hangovers.
5. Have a pre-party snack to help curb the nibbles when you arrive and see all those bowls of snacks! I suggest sliced banana on toast, or a bowl of plain yogurt and sliced banana. Bananas contain potassium which replenish the electrolytes lost, due to the diuretic effects of alcohol.
6. Vitamin C is required at this time of year to keep us free from colds and flu, so get your 5-8 portions of fruit and vegetables daily, especially since alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
7. Choose healthy options on non-party days. Alcohol strips our bodies of B vitamins so include plenty of grains (couscous, brown rice, quinoa) and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia) in your meals.
8. Use the 80:20 principle and eat healthy, whole food meals 80% of the time, allowing yourself to indulge in whatever you fancy, 20% of the time.

Finally, remember to stay safe, don’t drink and drive, plan ahead and have a nominated driver but most of all HAVE FUN over the festive season.

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