How to indulge without feeling ill
Tis the season to be jolly…and eat and drink to excess! Christmas is a wonderfully social time of year, a time for sharing and giving, meeting and eating, treats and temptation. I am definitely NOT here to tell you to avoid all the naughty treats, after all bucks fizz and croissants are a delightful way to start Christmas Day, but to save you entering the New Year feeling as if you need another holiday to recover, have a read of these festive tips.
Preparation and moderation are the words to repeat. Indulge but don’t overindulge. Our digestive system takes a bit of a battering at this time of year as we tend to eat larger quantities of rich food and ignore the full messages our stomach sends us. This can lead to bloating, gas and constipation – hardly gifts we want to receive!
Here are a few tips to help you look after your digestive health during the festive season:
- Line your stomach – let’s be realistic and start with alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach irritates the stomach lining which can not only be uncomfortable but also means the alcohol is absorbed much quicker (sounds fun but you can soon feel liverish). Filling up on a protein rich breakfast, for example smoked salmon and eggs or porridge with blueberries will help.
- Hydration -consider starting the day with a hot water and lemon which is a lovely support for the large intestine in purging the effects of the day before. Alternate every alcoholic beverage with a glass of water, or at least try to have a glass of water every couple of hours. Embrace French style and have a glass of water with every caffeinated drink.
- Support your liver – milk thistle is a marvellous support for the liver which is breaking down toxins and packaging them up to be excreted from the body. Water, fresh air and fruit juice are great ways to soothe a hangover.
- Remember your fruit and vegetables – they are a great source of fibre and huge support to the elimination phase. Eating these will also provide much needed nutrients and antioxidants, help balance blood sugar levels and allow you to fill up on nutritious food, with space for snacks on top.
- Food triggers – cake, cream, croissants are not only delicious but also contain the most popular food triggers of sugar, dairy and wheat, how annoying. Pay attention to your gut and be aware of what irritates it. Wheat is a trigger for me having spent years with IBS so I avoid it where I can to reduce inflammatory markers so if I eat a small amount, e.g. in stuffing, it won’t have as big an impact as a bunch of mince pies.
- Digestive enzymes are a complete essential in my book. Taking 2 before my main meal helps my body prepare to break down the food more quickly and stops me feeling bloated.
- Cleanse Fibre Blend from Neal’s Yard Remedies is a lifesaver packed full of fibre to support the large intestine. Sprinkle onto porridge, cereal or whizz up in a smoothie to help keep things regular.
- Keep moving – exercise will stimulate the digestive and endocrine system, help regulate the bowels and soothe our minds. A short afternoon stroll while the lunch is cooking will suffice.
- Sleep – give in and switch off for restorative sleep. It is tempting to stay up all night watching Christmas films but remember to allow the body time to recover overnight and process the excess of the day.
- Emotional support – being with our families often sees us revert back into parent/child/squabbling sibling roles. Be mindful of this and try to allow some time (a walk perhaps) just with your partner or children away from the wider family to keep the balance.
Finally, relax and enjoy! Don’t panic if you’ve eaten one too many portions of Christmas pudding, just enjoy and remember that tomorrow is another day.
If it helps, pop Saturday 13th January in your diary for a Kickstart Your Health workshop of cleansing advice, smoothie making and goal setting.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy Christmas x
Diary dates: 13th January Kickstart Your Health workshop – more details on the events page