I got asked by my girls this morning, “What is the worst thing we can eat over the Christmas period?” which was then followed by… “and what about alcohol?”
It can be challenging to not get high-jacked by all the excitement and indulgent food and drink options we are often exposed to over the silly season.
Here are some helpful tools, tips and links (links in pink) to keep the damage at a minimum so you can continue making choices from a place of health and self care, rather then out of obligation and overwhelm.
1. On Exercise:
Make exercise the first thing you do in the morning (get outdoors, it’s the most magical and inspiring hour of the day). If you have visitors, perhaps you can all head out for a beach walk, a game of frisbee, or take a bike ride.
House or hotel bound and have a spare 20 minutes solo? Try my Retro Holiday Workout!
Exercise makes for a clear mind, and a clear mind makes for clear food choices.
The more incidental exercise over this period the better, you can make it fun and incorporate the whole family if need be! Think backyard games, walking to and from venues and post dinner strolling to help you digest your food.
2. On Food:
My 2:1 Rule: I use this approach when I am traveling (food is a big part of why I travel) and can be just as usefully applied to the Christmas season. My rule of thumb is to eat two pristine meals and then one “free” meal per day… which means I eat exactly what I want, guilt free!
Portion Size: Just because there is a banquet of food in front of you does not mean you need to have ALL the things, and mountains of it. Eat until you are only two thirds full, then take your plate to the kitchen, or if you can, walk away from the table! You will feel so proud of yourself the next day (and sleep much better) if overeating is a past time habit of yours.
Take care of you by eating small amounts mindfully, being careful not to get swept up in the gorging that may be happening around you!!
Sugar is the big one you want to avoid here. Our body has no ability to register if it is full when we are eating sugary foods, making it far easier to overeat.. i.e. choose a small cheese plate over christmas cake with brandy custard! Second to this is deep fried foods, like chips/crisps, they are laden with salt and have virtually zero nutritional value, instead, make your own home made chips or fill up on a sugar free dip with fresh cut vegetables!!
Try making your own sweet potato chips in the oven with coconut oil and some sea salt! My good mate Jules Galloway has a tasty recipe if you need some guidance: click here!
Need a sweet? Make a batch of my Grain & Refined Sugar Free Christmas Panforte.
Last week I stumbled across this Grain, Dairy and Refined Sugar Free Gingerbread Men from the Carla Oat’s cookbook, The Beauty Chef and they were a total winner.
3. On Alcohol:
My top three drink options I go for when choosing alcohol would be a clear spirit, e.g. gin with soda water, a good quality sparkling wine (sometimes I top with ice and mineral water to make it go further), or a martini.
Hangover Contributors: dehydration from not drinking h20, not eating enough protein/fat on the day of drinking (try to avoid drinking on an empty stomach), sugary mixers (FYI tonic water is full of sugar!), and preservatives in wine! Go natural wine or preservative free when it comes to vino and remember often one glass is more likely to be two standard drinks, not one.
Get in the habit of drinking a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages 1:1.
If I am drinking wine, I try to get my wines from Jilly Wines. You can pick them up from Clunes Genral Store if you live locally, or see the website for stockists.
My highschool mate Eddie Brooke just started Cape Byron Distillery and is making his own local gin, a great present for Christmas or as a contribution to the Christmas table.
Alcohol more often then not makes us over eat or become less mindful of what we are eating, the less sugar you’re consuming in your beverages, the less likely you are to fall victim to this.
4. On Stress & Emotions:
Christmas time can be a difficult one for many. I personally find it challenging, and prefer not to get too caught up in the commercial hype of it all… I see this week as a staycation, spending as much time with friends as possible, reading books and surfing.
For anyone else who swerves the Christmas festivities, or needs some tools to help manage emotions that arise when your family hits town, here are some other resources I find useful.
Reflection + Contemplation: I use this time to reflect on the year gone by, thinking about what I would like to let go of, and then what I would like to focus more on in the year to come. I do this for both my work and personal life.
I am a huge fan of a daily mediation practice before bed. I take 15 minutes sitting comfortably, (not lying down or else you will fall asleep). It’s a great way of reducing stress, turning the volume down on incessant thoughts, and improving the quality of my sleep. I spend a lot of time listening to meditations and Podcasts by Tara Brach, and also use the app ~ “One Giant Mind”
Unplug Social Media: If there was ever a time to disconnect from the giant energy zapping cord that is social media, it’s Christmas. Be with friends, family and yourself. If you find Christmas time emotionally challenging, as I do, it’s even more of a reason to take some time away from the screen and find ways to have fun outside of technology!
Need I state that alcohol can also heat things up in the emotional department, so if your family/in-laws tend to raise your blood pressure or shorten your fuse, you’re much more likely to react and lash out with each additional glass you have… practice slowing down so you can communicate from your highest self.
The ocean is everything to me! The more time I can get in the water, the better!! Being by the ocean gives me perspective and allows me to see that each day is a fresh start. It suspends me when I need support from something greater, reminds me that like the waves, seasons and situations come and go, and that everything belongs here, I belong here.
May your holidays be peaceful. x