Health News & Articles
A satisfying holiday.
Sometimes I wonder why I tend to loose control over the holiday period... No matter how many promises I make to myself, the chances are that I will indulge in all those “good” things that make me feel happy for a moment, but miserable in the long term.
I worked hard all year -I tell myself-, under pressure, expectations and demands of my busy life, so – I keep on telling myself- I deserve a reward.
However, it seems that every time I decide to reward myself, I do it with something that hurts me . Ouch.
It is totally ironical, but it simply works like this (choose your favourite): “I have had such terrible year that I am going to go out every night until I collapse” -and end up the year even worse-. Or: “I have had such a great year that I am going to celebrate it by smoking again!”. Ouch, ouch.
My own personal self-destruction comes in the shape of heavy, rich, very chocolately foods. Large quantities of them.
This year, though, all I ask for in my stocking is that I don’t get lost in my cravings, as I have done every Xmas before. I hope this doesn’t sound too “up there”, but the events of the past months have given me a new awareness of other people’s suffering and what’s going on in our planet like never before. Why? I’m not sure. I’ll have to reflect on that one. All I know is that a crazy streak of over-indulgence doesn’t feel “right” right now. .
When I discussed this with a client -whose job actually involves leadership programs- , he told me that “now more than ever these are “We” times instead of “I” times”. I loved this.
This doesn’t mean that I will not celebrate the end of this year with my family and friends, it just means that I will not destroy myself in the process. These holidays are not only about me.
If you’d like to try a different Xmas holiday this year, read on and make this a truly fulfilling time…
1. You don’t need to drink alcohol every day.
Someone once asked me if I needed a glass of wine to smile, laugh and be a nice person. My answer was of course not! As I am finding out, my friends are also naturally funny and they don’t need to drink to be the best friends in the world. If you are told you are “boring” because you don’t have a drink, re-think your circle of friends, or take a good look at yourself and see if you are actually only fun when you drink. There might be a good New Year’s resolution somewhere there.
Plus, if you are a woman, you might like to know that each unit of alcohol increases the chances of breast cancer by 7%. Do your maths and you can see why it doesn’t make sense to spend the last month of the year working on this.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines are a good base to start from:
Men 4 units per day, with at least 2 alcohol-free days per week, Women 3 units per day, with at least 2 alcohol-free days per week.
2. Stick to the drinking golden rules:
a. Eat healthy fats/protein before you drink, such as nuts, cheese or olives. Even better, eat a full meal accompanied by a good quality, sulphate-free wine.
b. Drink still water moderately through the evening.
c. Take your alcohol slowly, just like they do in countries like Italy, France and Spain, and not all in one go. Your pancreas, liver and your head will thank you for this.
d. If you feel tipsy, stop drinking and start moving; for instance, dance or go for a walk. Moving helps you metabolize alcohol faster and it reduces the nasty side-effects.
e. Avoid going to bed while you feel the effects of alcohol. Stay up, eat, or walk until your head feels clear.
f. Stay away from sweet cocktails, liquors and dessert wines. The added sugar causes a double hit on your head, and your waist.
3. Don’t eat all the pies.
The world is not ending, it’s just Xmas and New Year, and you don’t have to eat as if you are storing up for the season. If you love the festive food, maybe consider taking some to a local shelter or a lonely neighbour who will enjoy it too. Even just saving it for tomorrow’s lunch is a better idea than stuffing yourself until you feel sick. Try also not to have second helpings.
Enjoy your favourite foods, but keep it lighter. This also means you might still fit into your jeans in the new year!
4. Try new healthy recipes.
From Ottolenghi to Jamie Oliver, every chef in the world is offering amazing healthy recipes for the holidays. I thought I had seen everything until a friend of mine who is a big meat eater -and owns a steak restaurant- was actually looking for vegetarian Xmas dinner options for her family. There is a new healthy yet exciting way of cooking, with amazingly delicious dishes you can surprise your guests with, so why not use this time to try new recipes…here are just three of our favourites:
5. Move after food!!
In fact, just move. Before and after you eat. Build up an appetite before dinner by doing whatever sport you like to do, or simply by going for a run outdoors. After a large meal, walking is the best way to stimulate your digestion and reduce bloating and flatulence.
I have found that if I go for a short run and do my Yoga practice every day during the holidays, I don’t feel so heavy in the body or guilty in the mind.
Stay active and you will feel much lighter even after your Xmas pudding!