Christmas is notoriously a time to indulge, but don’t let this be the green light to overindulge! You can still enjoy all the festivities of the season and get through the Christmas period without too much impact on your health and waistline.
1. Start the day with a healthy breakfast
Start the day with a generous bowl of porridge, topped with a handful of cranberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Porridge stabilizes blood sugar levels, which helps control appetite later in the day.
You can also add a good dollop of probiotic yogurt, which helps support the immune system and promote digestive health, as well as combat some of the less beneficial effects of the party season, like too much alcohol and not enough sleep.
2. Include healthy and well-timed snacks
Always have a pre-party snack. A small pot of plain yogurt with sliced banana is a good option. The yogurt’s protein slows stomach emptying, which helps delay the effects of that first glass of wine while the potassium-rich banana helps balance any increase in salt intake – especially helpful if going to be nibbling on olives, crisps, or salted nuts.
Other snacks which do the trick include granary toast with nut butter, a bowl of muesli with milk, or a mug of vegetable soup.
3. Stay hydrated
On the day of a big night out, and the day after, make a conscious effort to drink six-eight glasses of water or plenty of herbal teas or diluted juice. Even mild dehydration can lead to a headache and combined with the diuretic effects of alcohol, makes maintaining your fluid intake so important.
4. Make healthier choices at party buffets
Buffets can be a disaster zone, so make sure to fill half of the plate with salad and vegetables and the rest with protein-based canapés like salmon and chicken. Take your time selecting and eating any food and move away from the table as soon as your plate is full so you can avoid non-stop grazing.
5. Prevent a hangover
Don’t be tempted to skip meals so you can stockpile calories for drinking. Alcohol only supplies empty calories, so avoiding proper meals to compensate for a booze splurge means you’re losing out on valuable nutrients, just when your body needs them to help it detoxify.
To help prevent a hangover, stick to one type of drink and make it a lighter-coloured one because they tend to be lower in the chemical by-products that can worsen a hangover. Aim to have no more than one alcoholic drink an hour, alternated with juice, water or soft drinks – perfect if you don’t like holding an empty glass.
6. Eat well the morning after
Best ‘morning after’ breakfast is a frittata or omelette packed with veg. Use mushrooms for their energising B vitamins, tomatoes for vitamin C and onions for their liver-friendly sulphur compounds. If you have spinach to hand add a generous handful because it’s a great source of folate which helps body repair DNA. Eggs are an excellent choice for the morning after because they provide choline, a nutrient that supports the liver. Add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or a chopped chilli to boost circulation and rev up your recovery.
If you can’t face a cooked breakfast then have a smoothie made with fruits like bananas, oranges or kiwi – these are rich in potassium which helps replenish the electrolytes lost due to the diuretic effects of alcohol.
7. Get right back on track
After a big night out don’t skip meals, even if you have over-indulged. After all, it’s the balance of your diet that’s important. Apply the 80:20 principle – eating healthily 80% of the time, which allows the space for delicious treats at weekends and on special occasions.