No more denial. I think it’s worth facing the reality of the festive and that is: we tend to eat too much, exercise less, drink more and stay out later. Correct? So rather than punishing ourselves, it’s much easier mentally and physically to have a super simple plan of attack. Let’s take a few of the festive factors into view and create a strategy to see you through.
Champagne is inevitable, cocktails – potential. And you can’t be an angel year round, this is the time to have a bit of fun. But don’t forget that alcohol is a diuretic so if you don’t replenish with good hydration during your boozing hours, as well as before and after, you’re going to end up with that headache, lacklustre skin and ultimately feeling less than spirited.
The strategy: Start the evening, event, barbecue, lunch or whatever it might be with a glass of water, then alternate one alcoholic drink with one glass of water throughout the event.
The rationale: Starting with water lays the foundations in our memory that hydration (with H20) is key to feeling good. And you’ll generally revisit that idea throughout the event. No hydration at the start means that more often than not it’s a downward spiral to only alcohol.
“Exercise improves clarity and focus – things we don’t necessarily have if we’re partying more than usual.”
Chances are with more parties, lunches to end the year and seasonal celebrations you’ll be eating more than usual, or eating foods you wouldn’t usually. Your digestive system is likely to feel the effects, – with bloating, heaviness, discomfort, flatulence and other such symptoms, none of which are ideal.
The strategy: The morning after a celebration, drink warm water and lemon to kick the liver into action and hit up a green juice or smoothie for breakfast.
The rationale: If your digestive system has been overloaded, you need to give it some kindness too. A juice or smoothie will allow your gut to have a rest, yet still provide your body with nutrition and energy it needs to run well.
Not many will be in the mood for HIIT with a belly full of festive fodder, yet movement is so important to get things back on track. There are the physical benefits to our muscles of course, and for many it helps move the digestive system along too. The other major benefit is mental: exercise improves clarity and focus – things we don’t necessarily have if we’re drinking, eating and partying more than usual.
The strategy: Make a ‘move’ date with a buddy, work colleague, sister, brother, mother or trainer, and stick to it.
The rationale: Once that date is secured and you’re committed to showing up and supporting someone else in their training as well, you’re less likely to cancel in favour of couch time. Remember mental clarity is vital to good health, not to mention the incredible endorphin hit that comes with a walk, run, yoga or any other movement that makes your body feel great.
Jacqueline Alwill is a qualified, practicing nutritionist, whole foods cook and director at The Brown Paper Bag.