The festive period is all about family, fun and, of course, food and drink. Lots of it.
There’s something inevitable about overindulging at this time of year, but doing so also means our health can take a hit.
With a little planning and care, it’s possible to enjoy the festive season without undermining the effort you’ve made over the rest of the year.
Often, we tell ourselves that we’ll ‘be good’ in the New Year, but this usually leads to procrastination and then we fall back into old, unhealthy habits.
We can all be guilty of letting ourselves go, but even at Christmas it pays to make your good health a priority.
If you want to keep up your healthy lifestyle this festive season, here are a few tips to help.
1. MODERATE YOUR FOOD INTAKE
Moderation is a word that’s rarely used at Christmas, but if you want to maintain your healthy habits, it’s essential.
Of course, treats every now and then are fine, but try to pace yourself.
One way you can moderate food intake is to limit your portion size and eat off a smaller plate. This can help trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you are.
Much of the time, we carry on eating just because the food is in front of us. However, it’s better to be mindful about what you’re eating and notice when you’re full.
Part of eating mindfully is taking time to chew slowly and really savour your meals; your food takes a while to digest, so it may be a little time after you’ve eaten for you to realise you’re full.
It might be hard to say no to food when it’s offered to you, but try eating little and often rather than in large quantities and you’ll feel much better for it.
2. MAKE HEALTHIER CHOICES WHERE YOU CAN
Overindulging in an unbalanced diet is one of the biggest dangers during the festive period.
It's easy to let our diets slip during the holidays. A typical Christmas menu often includes carbs, red meat and more carbs, but remember to eat a balanced selection of fruits and vegetables too.
Brussel sprouts are the perfect healthy choice at Christmas because they’re low in calories but high in vitamins and fibre. So, if you get the urge to stuff yourself, try to indulge in foods that do you good.
If you want the ultimate daily formula, STAIT Superfoods contains an organic blend of whole foods and adaptogens that are rich in all 8 essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, that help to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
3. AVOID SURGARY FOODS AND DRINKS
This seems almost impossible at this time of year, but if you can avoid sugary foods and drinks, your body will thank you later.
Drinks like mulled wine and eggnog (as lovely as they are) can be loaded with sugar.
Consuming too much sugar can drain you of energy, negatively affect the appearance of your skin and cause weight gain.
If you're trying to keep in shape, we’d recommend sticking to water or unsweetened beverages as much as you can.
4. GO EASY ON THE BOOZE
This is also easier said than done, but try to consume alcohol in moderation.
Alcoholic drinks are often high in calories, so it's best to limit your intake during the festive period.
If you do attend a party or event with lots of drinking, it might help to alternate alcoholic drinks with water; this way, you aren’t constantly drinking alcohol.
Alcohol is also a diuretic meaning it causes your body to remove fluids from your blood.
When you get dehydrated, you lose strength and stamina. Maintaining your water intake while you’re drinking keeps you hydrated and helps flush out the toxins from the alcohol.
If you’re looking to prevent a hangover, you can’t go wrong with STAIT Superfoods. This formula contains Spirulina which is rich in Vitamin B6, known for reducing hangover symptoms by up to 50%. It also contains vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients which are depleted when drinking alcohol. A number of the herbs assist in the detoxification process, as well as beetroot being an effective blood cleanser. We recommend drinking a glass before you begin your big night out and a glass before bed to ward off a headache the following morning.
The most obvious tip of all is to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Having a healthy meal before you start drinking can help slow the absorption of the alcohol.
Let’s be honest, many of us will be having a few drinks over the holidays, but you can still minimise the effects on your health.
5. KEEP ACTIVE
Even though the festive season seems like a time for hunkering down and curling up on the sofa, it’s important to get out and move around.
Exercise is always important for maintaining good health, but it can be particularly beneficial during the holiday period when we tend to eat more and move less.
Being active after Christmas dinner is especially important to aid digestion.
Getting active doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym every day and doing a morning run, but a brisk walk in the park or a game of football with friends will do the trick.
Furthermore, Stan Efferding - an American IFBB professional bodybuilder and World Record Holding Powerlifter - advocates a 10-minute walk after each meal to effectively manage blood glucose levels. He states that:
“healthy populations have been walking after meals for centuries, but somehow we have lost sight of this incredibly important and effective method of exercise. Ten minute walks after meals improve digestion and reduces bloating, and help control blood sugars. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that 10 minute walks can be twice as effective as Metformin for preventing type 2 diabetes, by decreasing the peak and the duration of glucose in the bloodstream after meals.”
6. REINFORCE YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Given that this time of year is known for colds and flus, it's a good idea to boost your immune system as much as possible.
Ward off illnesses by eating nutritious foods, drinking lots of water, getting outside for fresh air and sunshine, and minimising stress.
STAIT Supplement for Men and Women contains herbs that help to support the body in times of stress as well as 2 key minerals that are renowned for their affinity with the immune system: zinc and selenium.
Anything you can do to strengthen your immunity will help maintain your health and wellbeing over the holidays.
7. REDUCE STRESS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Although Christmas is generally a joyous time of year, it can also be pretty stressful.
Whether there are family tensions or pressure from planning Christmas dinner, this busy time of year can take a toll on us.
To mitigate this, aim to stick to your daily routine as much as possible.
It’s easy to throw our daily rituals out of the window and stop making healthy choices altogether, but this can often do us more harm than good.
So, even if it's just your exercise regime or morning meditation you maintain, make sure you sustain a few of your healthy habits as this will help reduce stress.
8. GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP
This one probably goes without saying, but getting a good night’s sleep will always do you the world of good.
All those office parties and Christmas drinks may impact your sleep quality this winter, so it's vital that you do everything you can to ensure you get adequate rest.
Although it might be tempting to curl up for a few hours after Christmas dinner, avoid taking long naps. This can throw your whole sleep pattern out of whack and make it difficult to get back to normal.
If you’re someone who struggles with insomnia, our STAIT Herbal Tea for Sleep helps calm the body and mind, promoting longer, deeper sleep.
9. PROTECT YOUR GUT
Of course, eating is generally a big part of the festivities at Christmas.
Always try to maintain your gut health where possible.
70% of your immune system is located in your gut, so if you treat it poorly during the holidays, you’re much more likely to get ill after the holiday ends.
To reinforce your gut, make sure you eat lots of greens like spinach, broccoli and brussel sprouts as these are great sources of fibre and nutrients.
Garlic and onions are also a good choice for your gut because they’re prebiotic foods which are known for supporting digestion.
Try to eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi as they naturally contain probiotics, promoting gut health.
In the long run, it’s not worth sacrificing our gut health and immunity for the sake of one holiday.
10. DON'T LET ONE SETBACK THROW YOU OFF-TRACK
Finally, don’t let one setback throw you off track. If you overindulge in one thing or another, try not to let it impact your entire routine.
Ideally, you want to be as healthy as possible over the holidays, but we’re all human.
So, if you’ve eaten or drunk too much, don’t beat yourself up. The worst thing you can do is throw out all your hard work and stop trying at all.
After overindulging, simply make a new plan and set yourself new targets; we all slip up now and again, so don’t let one mistake stop you from achieving your goals.
By following these simple tips, you can enjoy all the festivities stress-free and without sacrificing your health in the process.