Christmas is fast approaching, the season of over-indulgence and sugary foods. For many people there is a certain amount of guilt associated with this time of year. It may come during or after and result in new year’s resolutions to improve health and cut down on the bad stuff. But these resolutions can be very difficult to stick to when you go from one extreme to the other.
What if you could indulge, but without the guilt or nasty side effects
(weight gain, heavy head, sugar slump)?
To make a change this year, you don’t need to miss out. Instead you can crowd out.
This involves still having those treats you enjoy at xmas parties and holiday gatherings but making sure you also make room for the good stuff. The trick is, have a smaller portion of the treat foods and a larger portion of the good-for-you foods. So if you are partaking in a buffet, make 60-80% of your plate vegetables and salads and then use the smaller portion for anything fried or overly rich.
Another approach is to make sure your meals at home are super healthy so that when you go out and indulge in the unhealthy stuff, your body will have the capacity for a faster recovery. This requires a certain amount of will power but not too much. Sugary and processed foods are quite addictive from the outset. This means that even if you usually eat really well, it doesn’t take long for your brain to start craving the bad stuff once you go down that path.
- To counter this, remind yourself that it can wait for later (the next party or get together).
- Remind yourself how good it feels to nourish your body.
- By the same token, the positive effects from healthy whole foods will kick in just as quickly, so will-power does not need to be maintained for too long.
Ideas for nourishing your body outside social gatherings
- Drink a fresh vegetable juice once a day. This one is economical if you have your own juicer. The benefit of vegetable juices such as carrots, beetroot, cellery, ginger and greens is that you consume the nutrients from a greater amount of vegetables in one sitting. Nutrients are what keep us healthy and aid in a faster recovery when we overindulge.
- Start the day with a really healthy breakfast. Try replacing processed cereals with wholegrain ones. If you like a sweet breakfast, have fresh fruits with an unsweetened muesli, coconut yoghurt and or home-made chia pudding. If you prefer a savoury breakfast, mix some vegetables and or salad with eggs and a sourdough or paleo bread. Remember to include healthy fats such as avocados, seeds, nut butters and coconut oil/cream.
- Include more fresh, raw foods in your diet throughout the day. Eat more salads, raw nuts and avocados. Check out some of my salad recipes.
- Increase your vegetable portions at each meal. This will increase your fibre intake making it easier for your gut to clear out the unwanted stuff that results from eating junk foods.
- Take a probiotic. Consuming larger amounts of sugar, fried foods and alcohol affects your gut bacteria for the worse. The good ones die off, allowing the bad ones to flourish. Taking a good probiotic along with increasing your healthy food intake will greatly reduce discomfort in the gut.
- Drink herbal teas to help your body deal with the over-indulgence. Herbs such as chamomile, marshmallow and fennel are great for inflammation (caused by poor diet). Nettle, and St Mary’s thistle are excellent cleansers and peppermint, liquorice and the herbs listed above for inflammation are also great to sooth the stomach.
- Above all, drink plenty of filtered water. Not only will you stay hydrated but you will enable your body to flush out toxins from junk foods and alcohol.
If you begin to adopt these healthy habits during the silly season you will be miles ahead come January. You will be in a more empowered position to make lasting changes to your diet and lifestyle habits, thereby improving your overall health.
Those new years resolutions may actually become life-time habits if you implement changes gradually and one at a time.