December is the month of celebrations, spending time with family and friends, enjoying festive foods and drinks. Nutrition-wise this can be a challenging time but I do not believe that we should lock ourselves indoors to avoid the parties and skip on all the fun.
Here you are a few tips on how to enjoy yourself keeping your health (especially your liver!) and your waistline in mind:
- First of all, avoid going to a party hungry. This is because when you are hungry it is easy to eat a lot of party food quickly, and you might end up not making the healthiest of choices. Before going out, nibble on some healthy fat and protein which will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and also prevent alcohol from being absorbed too quickly into your bloodstream. Great options are a boiled egg, some olives or a few slices of chicken/turkey breast.
- When you get to the party stay away from the carbohydrate rich canapés, mince pies or sausage rolls. Choose some smoked salmon, nuts and olives instead. Although olives and nuts can be salty, they are still better options than crisps or nachos.
- Watch your drinks! No, I am not going to tell you not to drink but choose your poison carefully and drink in moderation. I often get asked what my hangover cure is; well I say that prevention is better than any cure so the less you drink the less likely you are to wake up with a spinning head in the morning. Keep things simple and never drink on an empty stomach. Food in the stomach helps to delay the absorption of alcohol in the blood so you do not get drunk too quickly.
- So what to drink? Sticking to a glass of wine is much better than having a mixed drink which can be loaded with extra sugars. Be careful with the sparkling wine though, as a standard glass contains 2 teaspoons of sugar, 3 times as much as red wine. Try diluting alcoholic drinks. Fancy a spritzer or shandy anyone? Also remember that soft drinks, juices, punches and flavored mineral waters can have as many calories as alcoholic drinks. Be mindful as it all adds up and, unfortunately, it will probably all land on your waistline.
- Pace yourself and alternate between one alcoholic drink and a glass of water. This will help dilute the alcohol in your bloodstream and prevent dehydration. Dehydration is one of the main causes of hangover symptoms like headaches so it does make sense to drink plenty of water too while you are out partying.
- If you still wake up feeling dreadful the next day and you are unable to face going to the office, then try taking some Dioralyte. Dissolve a sachet in a glass of water to improve your hydration and replace mineral salts. By the way, this not a ‘cure’ but it might make you feel a bit better.
- What about the morning-after breakfast? Although a full English breakfast might sound like a good idea, it will leave you bloated and lethargic. Go for a couple of scrambled eggs instead. Eggs are rich in cysteine which is an important antioxidant utilized by the liver to break down toxins. I would also eat as many bright colored vegetables as possible, especially carrots and beetroots. These contain powerful antioxidants which also help the liver to detoxify. Resist the temptation to drink lots of tea and coffee which are dehydrating. Opt for a super hydrating and energizing green juice instead, full of super nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium and B vitamins.
- Remember to keep active. Even if you skip the gym routine, get out there and go for a walk instead. Nothing beats a brisk walk in the park to get rid of that morning after feeling. Why not involve the kids with a game of football to keep them busy and burn some calories at the same time?
Ultimately, if you do drink an extra glass or eat a bit more than usual, do not punish yourself. I believe you can allow small indulgences over the holidays and relax about it. Embrace the festive fun, provided you go back to your healthy eating and excising when the parties are over.
May I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year!