The festive season is upon us once more, full of Christmas parties, tempting treats, plentiful booze and Christmas dinners to help trip up all our good intentions to be healthy.
How do you let your hair down without ending up feeling like a big bloated ball of regret by New Year?
While the only sure-fire way to prevent a hangover, weight gain and/or digestive discomfort is to drink in moderation and eat healthily, these tips will help to combat overindulgence:
Eat slowly and mindfully – take time enjoy what you are eating, that way you are more likely to sense when you are full and not end up as stuffed as the turkey.
Exercise portion control: Just by reducing how much we put on our plates can help reduce how much we eat. Use smaller sized dinner plates and bowls for your meals – this will trick your mind to thinking you are eating more. Also, practice saying “…thanks, that was delicious but I'll pass on seconds…”
Keep moving - No matter how many parties are on make sure to exercise regularly or at least go for a walk every day. As well as being a great hangover cure, it helps counter any extra calories and also helps digestive function. Why not start a new Christmas tradition of a brisk hour’s walk after breakfast on Christmas Day?
Fuel up early in the day – Make sure you have a good breakfast that includes quality protein (such as eggs) and wholegrain carbohydrates, such as porridge or museli. A healthy breakfast can help keep hunger at bay, which makes us less likely to overeat and give in to sugar cravings.
Similarly, don’t skip lunch if you going out for a big meal later. Although this sounds like a good idea to help not eat too much, you are actually more likely to eat more because you are hungry. Not to mention the mid-afternoon energy dips and general irritability you’ll feel due to blood sugar lows.
Eat supper or at least a big, healthy, snack before going out - Parties can be full of unhealthy snacks and drinks. Going to a party on a full stomach leaves you less likely to give in to these temptations, and more importantly line your stomach to help avoid that hangover / unnecessary embarrassment.
When you get home, drink a pint or so of water before you go to sleep. Keep a glass of water by the bed to sip if you wake up during the night. This will help to keep you hydrated.
If you do get that bloated, nauseous ‘no more turkey’ feeling that often follows on boxing day, it probably means that your gut has gone on strike due to being inundated with a tidal wave of booze and rich, sweet and fatty foods! So to help it get working properly again, try a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in ½ glass of water or a herbal tonic (such as Napiers Best British Bitters, available from Napiers Shop or www.deeatkinson.net ) before eating to help nurture it back to life. A digestive enzyme supplement can also help.
On the morning after the night before, make sure you have a good breakfast – watered down orange juice, eggs and wholemeal toast is a great breakfast for helping to keep a hangover at bay.
Also, eating light, nutritious foods, such as broths and clear soups (try my chicken and noodle soup – an absolute winner on the comfort / morning after stakes) that are easy for a fragile stomach to digest as well as being good sources of vitamins and minerals, which can help top-up depleted nutrient resources.