It is not always easy to stay healthy over Christmas. In fact, isn’t this one of the hardest times of the year to maintain resolve? It’s cold, wet and dark, which makes it more difficult to exercise. What’s more, as if to rub salt into the wound, it’s also the perfect time of year to turn to comfort and indulgent cooking, be enticed by all those glorious smells wafting from the oven, and sneak in one more cheeky tipple.
And, after what can feel like a long year, it’s no wonder we just let our guards down and decide that we deserve some extra hard earned indulgence and enjoyment!
Why not, indeed!
Christmas should most definitely not be a time for feeling guilty, nor buckling down and enforcing unreasonable restraints. We should enjoy ourselves - mental health is a big part of our overall well-being. Yet some of us enter this time of year with trepidation, wondering how we will resist and get through the temptations. We hope these ideas might help!
#1 Don’t set unreasonable health expectations
This is not a normal time of year, so don’t apply standard expectations. Take it for what it is. Understand that we’re all going to be letting our hair down a bit, so just free your mindset to it and enjoy it, without guilt or stress.
#2 Don’t beat yourself up
Going hand-in-hand with #1, this is all about being kind to yourself. So what, you had three serves of Christmas pudding? Whatever! You’re not doing that 365 days of the year, you’re doing it once (maybe twice with Boxing Day left-overs, if there are any!). You fall off the wagon, you’ll get back on eventually. Cut yourself some slack!
#3 Meditate and be mindful
There are often very strong influences at play during this festive season. We often want more, consume more, expect more. More, more, more. Set yourself a daily meditation circuit breaker so you don’t get the run of yourself. Bring yourself back down to earth, albeit even if it’s just for those few minutes each day. Remind yourself what is really critical, what you really need. Forget the to-do lists, the family politics, the consumerism, and just settle in your stillness.
#4 Add gut-friendly ingredients to the Christmas menu
For many families, Christmas is about tradition. Turkey, stuffing, roast vegetables, gravy, cranberry sauce, plum pudding, brandy butter, cream, ice-cream. It can also be a great opportunity to sneak a few newcomers onto the scene and see how they fare. Winter is a fabulous time to indulge in some foods that are star performers for gut health, and therefore overall health and well-being.
- Garlic. This one is easy to dial up as it’s probably already present in your stuffing or perhaps some of your side veggie dishes? It boasts excellent antibacterial and antifungal properties that play a key role in curbing bad gut bacteria.
- Ginger. Also another fairly easy one to slip in somewhat un-noticed. Maybe ginger ice-cream served as an alternative option to vanilla for your plum pud? Or a lovely preserved ginger and almond slice to nibble on with your post feast coffee or tea or even perhaps ginger tea? Ginger is great for generating stomach acid and stimulating the digestive system so that food passes through the gut. Exactly what we need this time of year!
- Sourdough. 2020 and its spate of isolations and quarantines has had some positive and unexpected spin-offs, one of them being a resurgence in home baking! Sourdough is fermented dough that is easier for our guts to digest compared to a lot of other bread types. It releases its energy slowly (so good to keep us going through the silly season!) and is delicious. So, if your family feast wouldn’t be complete without breaking bread, consider making it sourdough.
- Brussel sprouts. Now, it’s not unusual to see these guys feature in a Christmas feast line-up. But if you were fence-sitting and unsure which way to go, definitely keep brussel sprouts on the menu. They contain a great level of fibre and good bacteria that your gut will appreciate.
- Kombucha. Here’s where we go a little left-of-centre from the traditional, and suggest a culinary wild card. Stick with us, though. Kombucha is full of probiotic good bacteria, which for our gut is a welcome reprieve this time of year. A fermented tea drink with a vinegary, piquant taste, you can actually give it a sense of seasonal jolly by adding spices and fruits, or even using it as a base for some celebratory cocktails. Not at all as odd as it first sounded now, is it?
- Collagen. No surprises that we would be mentioning this, but it really is a powerhouse punch of well-being that may help your gut in particular. So many of our customers use collagen to help combat conditions such as leaky gut or IBS, which can really flare up during the silly season. Although we have a specific Digestive Enzyme Collagen blend, which is best consumed by firstly creating a paste and then adding this to your drink or food of choice, our pure bovine or marine collagen powders will effortlessly dissolve into your meal. As such, they make exceptionally effective but discreet additions to any winter warming dish on the menu, including baked goods. And for those times we you’ve over-indulged and find yourself bloated in front of the TV unable to move (because you’re so stuffed or you over did the mulled wine and dread the thought of Boxing Day being wiped out), then try our Activated Charcoal capsules - perfect for easing or preventing any food or booze hangovers!
#5 Keep up your (non alcoholic) fluids
It’s easy to forget to keep up our fluids when it’s so cold outside. However, in actual fact, all that indoor heating can often mean we need to drink even more water during winter than we do in summer! If you’ve got indoor plants you’ll immediately appreciate this - do you find yourself needing to water them more - or just as much - in winter than you do summer? We’re no different to our plants, really! It can be hard to resist a cheers here and a cheers there; a cheeky celebratory sip here and a wee season tipple there. What we find works well is a 1:2 ratio. If you’re enjoying an alcoholic drink then aim to have two glasses of water before you reach for your next serve.
#6 Start and end each day with some lemon
Citrus is a great natural detoxifier, so adding it to warm water is an effective way to help keep the bugs at bay. If the thought of that makes your mouth pucker, then find some local honey and add a small amount of this into the mix as well. A pint of this purity, with some collagen added in, is a perfect way to hydrate in the morning and support the liver by helping flush through toxins. A glass before meals also aids digestions and fat metabolism.
#7 Fare la passeggiata (the art of a post meal dinner)
In Italy, it is absolutely customary to fare la passeggiata after lunch and dinner. If you’ve been to Italy, you will have seen vast numbers of locals sauntering out of homes and restaurants and making their way slowly down the esplanade or boulevard. They will stop for a chat here and there, but eventually they’ll make their way down to a certain point and then back again. This daily tradition transcends age - you can never be too young, nor too old. This is not only a wonderful social bind for people, but it helps their digestion. It kickstarts the metabolism to begin its work. By no means are we suggesting a Three Peaks challenge after Christmas turkey, but an enjoyable walk in the cold air will be an enjoyable way to start working through all that food.
#8 Download a virtual workout app
As we learned during lockdown, there is an incredible amount of (often free) resources online that can help keep us motivated to move over the silly season. Yoga, indoor cycling, gym work-outs; they can be a great way to burn additional calories we might have enjoyed around the 25th. So many apps are available as well that can make these virtual workouts more social, by plugging into communities (people you know, or like-minded movers on the other side of the world; take your pic!). Some virtual workout apps to consider include:
#9 Keep your brain busy
As we’ve mentioned, staying healthy over Christmas needs to be a holistic approach; it’s not just about our bodies, but our minds and emotions. Don’t turn your brain off over the festivities - keep it busy, stimulated and engaged. Ideas include:
- Family games - puzzles, board games, magic tricks, Rubix cubes; anything that brings you all together
- Books - tuck into that tome you haven’t had time for this year!
- Crosswords and Sudoku - frustrating for some, constant stimulation for others!
- Build a blog or a website - why not? It will definitely keep you on your toes!
#10 Help others
Staying healthy can come from surprising places. Did you know that volunteer work often has as much positive impact on the volunteer worker as it does on the person they are helping? Knowing we have assisted someone somehow can release positive endorphins that are fantastic for our well-being. You don’t have to donate your day to a soup kitchen (although that is a great idea!). As they say, charity can start in the home. So even just reaching out to those around you and finding out how you might be able to help make their day easier could give you an unexpected boost.
Are you looking for Christmas presents this season? We’ve curated a cracking list of great ideas that are affordable, enviro-friendly and good for you. Be sure to check them out.
The information we have provided herewith, and all linked materials, are not intended nor should they be construed as medical advice. Moreover, the information herewith should not be used as a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions and consult your General Practitioner for advice specific for you.