Christmas is a wonderful time of year, one of indulgence but also nourishment and gratitude.
It is a time to unwind, repair and restore ready for the next 12 months. Nurturing your body and mind creates the foundation stones for both of these tasks. So here are my 5 top tips for making Christmas a time of nourishment and not just indulgence.
1. Start the day on the right foot Start the day with a good quality protein breakfast. This will set you up for the rest of the day, regulating your appetite and reducing those temptations for the sugar-laden goods on offer. It will also support the body’s production of usable energy avoiding the mid-afternoon slumps. The options I give my clients are poached eggs on steamed spinach, or poached salmon and avocado on rye or sourdough bread. Greek yoghurt with winter fruit compote and seeds is also a great breakfast to start the morning well.
2. Easing the pressure Known as nature’s tranquilliser magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in your body and is leached by factors such as alcohol, stress, coffee, antacids and the contraceptive pill. Sleeping issues, anxiety and menstrual cramps have improved with the use of magnesium. Nourish yourself with magnesium-rich foods including pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, wheat germ, oats, millet, buckwheat, avocado, barley, brown rice, kelp, collard greens, kale, figs and dates, or support yourself with a good multi-nutrient supplement. You could also try using ashwagandha which is an exceptional Indian botanic and my ‘adaptogen’ of choice when it comes to supporting a return to balance; whether that imbalance has been caused by external stresses or from internal changes such as inflammation or hormonal fluctuations.
3. Simple, healthy swaps The traditional Christmas meal is in fact very healthy (it's just the little treats that surround it that tend to add that festive heaviness). Nuts are in prime season at this time so choose walnuts slowly baked with rosemary and a pinch of rock salt instead of crisps, or strips of smoked trout or avocado on rye bread. Try swapping the mulled wine for a toddy. This makes the perfect after-dinner sipper. Lower in calories and sugar, it also combines the warming spices and remedial properties of cinnamon, cloves, and lemon zest.
4. Support your digestion Starting the day with a mug of warm water with a capful of apple cider vinegar with a little honey or hot lemon and ginger has also been shown to support digestion, most especially of fatty, heavier foods. Support liver function with foods such as beetroot, artichokes, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and chicory. Broccoli can improve the release of bile, an essential element in the digestion of fatty, rich foods. Taking a supplement to specifically support the liver can also support this process.
5. Don't be tempted to skip meals It is very tempting to start skipping meals to cut down on calories. This is possibly the worst thing you can do. Avoid all shop bought low-calorie meals, they are often high in sugar and low in nourishment meaning you just feel hungry later on. Instead, choose small, regular meals, eating every four hours and always including a source of healthy fats (such as nuts, seeds, oily fish, olive oil/flaxseed oil, avocados), and a source of lean protein (pulses, fish, nuts, seeds, turkey, chicken, game). Wishing you all a healthy and peaceful Christmas.