Healthy Habits To Adopt Over The Festive Period

The festive period can be a time of overindulgence and whilst we’d never tell you to deny yourself (because mince pies and mulled wine are life), there are healthy habits you can adopt to ensure you don’t enter January feeling like a total slug.

As Nutritional Therapist BSc, founder of GP Nutrition and author of Two Weeks to Feeling Great, Gabriela Peacock, explains: “Christmas is a great time of year where people like to spend time with their families, really relax and enjoy themselves. But it can also be quite stressful for your body as you are suddenly thrown out of your routine.  You are juggling much more in your day to day and so this can actually be a bit of struggle. It is therefore really important to look after yourself during this time as well so that when it’s over you don’t feel horrible and sluggish in January.”

Of course, Gabriela maintains that December is no time to deprive yourself, but a few small changes can take your post-Christmas hangover down a notch. “This is not the time to be strict and hard on yourself, it is important to have fun, but for me it is all about having a little plan. I tell my clients to work out which days will be the busy days which will be a little bit quieter so you can introduce some healthier habits because it is all about balance. A plan is helpful because it can give you a pattern to follow, it is all about little tips and tricks, so you don’t feel awful in January.”

Here, she shares some simple health hacks you can incorporate into the festive period to ensure maximum enjoyment but minimum sluggishness come January. You’re most welcome.

 Easy ways to reduce alcohol intake over Christmas

  • Stay away from sugar-heavy mixers and soft drinks, they really increase your blood sugar levels and will make your hangovers much worse.
  • A glass of water after each glass of alcohol works wonders as you are filling up your tummy and will therefore slow your pace down. Plus, you’re keeping yourself hydrated. Putting lots of ice in your drinks also helps with this.
  • Your liver loves lemons – add them to your alcoholic spirits with your soda, it tastes delicious and is really refreshing, your liver will thank you

Tips on how to beat a Christmas party hangover 

  • A turmeric latte is an amazing antioxidant. It is also very warming and nourishing, especially when you have a hangover.
  • Your hangover breakfast needs to be balanced as well. Protein is absolutely key. Whilst you crave carbs, it’s the last thing your body needs. Protein will also help to repair your liver and is essential for your liver health.
  • Kombucha contains all the beneficial bacteria which is critical for a balanced gut environment, those bacteria are essential for the liver to work properly so it has an amazing effect on liver detox.

 Balancing blood sugar levels to avoid excessive cravings

  • Try apple cider vinegar before main meals – this slows down the spike of glucose. Also, the acid in the vinegar helps to break down food.
  • If you start your meal with a few bites of protein this will slow down the release of sugar. Then have the carbohydrates, I always recommend a high grain, rye or seeded bread rather than just white or plain brown.
  • The ideal meal composition should be a good quality protein and high fibre carbohydrate.
  • Increase the diversity of phytonutrients with a rainbow diet.
  • Maintain blood sugar balance by eating when peckish, not starving.

 Healthy food ‘swaps’ that you’ll actually enjoy

  • Treat yourself – instead of a huge pudding every night try dark chocolate and fresh fruit.
  • Try making a natural home-made ice cream – a really simple recipe you can whizz up in your blender, just add yoghurt, agave, left over fruit. This makes a delicious, healthy ice cream equivalent.
  • Control your portion sizes, eat slowly, and chew your food. If you eat fast, you will eat more. This is all about enjoying it, but try your best to eat mindfully, you will naturally end up eating less. If you ensure your diet is high in fibre such as vegetables and good grains, you will eat less too.

 Improving sleep and reducing stress

  • Timing and composition are key – eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day, ending with a light supper that has more protein and vegetables than refined carbs. This will deliver constant and steady blood sugar levels. Your prize is a better night’s sleep.
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates, these will cause a spike, and will make you wake up in the middle of the night.
  • If you are still hungry before bed, eat a few spoonful’s of cottage cheese or live yoghurt, or a few slices of your roast chicken/turkey leftovers before going to bed. These are super-quick and convenient protein snacks that require no preparation, and the tryptophan will help induce sleepiness.