Sure, the whole point of the end of year period is to celebrate the festive season, round out your working year and settle in for some relaxing with friends and family over the holiday break.
However, the parties, food and alcohol can often leave us feeling a little more flat than festive if we aren't being a little extra mindful of supporting our bodies throughout this period. So whilst I am advocate for creating ways that'll have you looking after yourself, self-care doesn't have to mean mung beans and kombucha. It's mainly just about being mindful and proactive in looking after yourself whilst indulging.
So to help you through till the New Year (when we'll all be back on the straight and narrow), use the tips I've compiled below to make your holiday season healthier, without depriving you of all the eating, drinking and merriment that comes with it!
My Tops 10 Tips to Make Your Holiday Season Healthy - Whilst Still Eating, Drinking and Being Merry
1 # Prepare and Recover with Wholefoods: if your office Christmas party or a holiday gathering with friends is on an evening or weekend day, eat well throughout the day leading up to it, or focus on healthy eating the day before. This will help to ensure your gut and liver are as happy as possible, and levels of inflammation are low before your indulging. Continue this the day after with a focus on clean, unprocessed, vegetable-rich meals, and you'll support your gut, liver and levels of inflammation to reset as quickly as possible.
2 # Pick Your Battles: if you know you love a certain food that your body often doesn't agree with, but is synonymous with parties and festivity (I'm looking at you gluten and dairy), sure, indulge a little, but find equally delicious options to alternate it with. This could mean going for the goat's cheese at a party instead of the cow's milk cheese, as goat-based diary is vastly better tolerated by our digestive systems, or choosing to have a rice option over a wheat-based meal wherever you can.
3 # Dictate Your Terms: if you know the party food just gets all too much, or you're going to a gathering where fresh food options are notoriously absent, take matters into your own hands. Let your host know you'd love to bring a salad, dip, side dish or even better, a dessert, so you'll know you'll have a healthier (but still delicious) alternative available. This is especially pertinent for vegetarians and vegans.
4 # Double Park Yourself: when you're up at the bar, order a still or sparkling water every time you order yourself a drink. This way you can simply sip it amidst sipping your wine, beer or cocktail, keeping yourself hydrated as you go. Doing this means you won't forget to alternate your drinks with water (as we've all been told to do) or think 'I'll just get a water after this next one'. It also means you'll put yourself in great stead to be free of a hangover the next morning - because it's all about hydration at the end of the day! Putting a slice of lemon and lime in there also has most people thinking it's a gin or vodka with soda, putting to rest any 'aren't you drinking??' jibes from fellow party goers.
5 # Pick the Meat and Vege: if you're trying to not blow out too much over the silly season, a general and easy rule of thumb is to stick to meats and veggies when it comes to BBQ's, functions and events. This applies across the board from canapes, entrees, sides and mains (perhaps not dessert though!), meaning you'll avoid the foods covered in calorie-rich sauces, liver-taxing fried foods or inflammatory gluten and dairy, whilst filling up on protein from the meat and fiber and nutrients from the vegetables. This especially helps if you're drinking more than usual, as protein and vegetables will help to support your liver, provide replacement nutrients for the ones lost and help keep some food sitting in your stomach.
6 # Chose Your Battles: if this time of year has your social calendar full to the brim - go you, you popular thing! Or perhaps you already socialise a lot with your work or circle, and this time of year simply kicks things up another notch. Either way, beyond your popularity, a multitude of socialising means you could end up crawling into the New Year feeling sluggish and inflamed from all that eating and drinking. Could you stay on the waters at one event? Stick to a healthier eating template at another? Of course, have your time to go all out and seize the moment, but you might find an event where reigning it in feels just as appropriate or possible as partying.
7 # Be Clear & Spiritually Minded: I can't do a post on staying healthy over the holidays without making mention of alcohol choice. Obviously clear spirits are the (clear) winners when it comes to keeping drinking as 'clean' as possible, with the added bonus of them mixing well with hydrating soda. However, avoid sugary mixers like the plague (I'm looking at your cranberry), as if you've experienced one before, you know sugar-induced hangovers are real, and they're tough.
8 # Prep Your Liver: As a naturopath, I can't really condone the regular and excessive consumption of alcohol. However, if it's inevitable that you're in for a few big nights, consider taking a B vitamin complex or herbal liver supplement before you head to your event and before you go to bed the night of. It'll help replenish the B vitamins you'll lose from drinking and support your liver.
9 # Alkalise Like a Hipster: When it comes to recovery, lean on things like magnesium powder, B vitamins and fresh fruit and veggie juices to rapidly rehydrate and alkalise your gut and liver after your indulging. A green smoothie for the next day's recovery brunch? Go for it!
10 # Just Act Normal: if you currently go to yoga or a gym class 3 times a week, keeping it up will go a long way in having you sail through all the extra parties and merriment. Also, whilst the menu and richness of the foods may have bumped up a notch, maintain normal eating habits at events and parties. This includes things like eating only when you're hungry, eating till you're full (not stuffed), and always trying to and work some veggies onto your plate. Everything you do either helps and hinders your health, so it's great to keep those smaller, but high impact, health habits going throughout the holiday season.
So there you have it! Follow these and you'll be in great stead to arrive into the New Year feeling happy, relaxed, rejuvenated and revitalised for another big year ahead.
Do you have any other tips? Let me know in the comments below!
All my best wishes,