Make it through the festive season with your health intact

Having the Christmas holiday during the hottest part of the year makes the annual celebration somewhat different in the southern hemisphere.

While the rest of the world is getting cosy beside the fireplace, going on sleigh rides or hitting the slopes for their winter holiday, everyone in the southern hemisphere is camping, barbecuing and playing sports.

This poses a slight problem considering Christmas generally consumes the month of December; plenty of social gatherings and functions leading up to the big event of a hot roast turkey, ham on the bone and all the trimmings can make it difficult to resist temptations and then feel comfortable wearing less clothing in the warmer days.

What can we do to get around it? Avoiding social situations is not that answer, as socialisation is so important for our mental wellbeing. Often people get so busy with their everyday lives throughout the year so it is nice to celebrate the end of another year with friends and colleagues. Pot-luck dinners are great; perhaps try out a new recipe for a healthy big salad you know you can enjoy. We don't often go to the extra trouble of adding the likes of halved grapes and slivered almonds with everyday meals so this is a good opportunity to try a new, healthy recipe that you can be proud of.

Not eating the day of a social function in order to ``conserve calories'' is not a great option. Try to eat regularly, even if it is lighter than usual and possibly even have a healthy snack or light meal before you go. This might include a boiled egg or a small handful of raw almonds as you get ready. Maybe not a can of tuna in this situation!

Keep up your water intake during your day. This can help to determine if you really are hungry or just dehydrated. If you are having alcohol, some water is advisable, especially if you want to avoid any embarrassing situations in front of workmates.

Having fat with alcohol, i.e., olives, nuts, or the likes of salmon canapes, will all help to slow the absorption. If you are out at a restaurant and everybody is ordering entrees, you could choose a salad-based entree or go without.

The gap between eating your entree and main often gives your receptors time to get the message that you are satisfied already, so often you don't even need to follow with more food. But we do anyway. Sharing a dessert is another good option. Just remember, it is not what you do some of the time but most of the time.

Surviving the silly season

Here are some daily habits that might help you to survive the silly season:

  1. Set your alarm for one hour earlier than usual.  Initially, the snooze button will be luring you to stay in your warm bed but the reward of getting up will pay off after only a few days.  Try to do all your chores and exercise at the start of the day and be in bed earlier to work more with the circadian rhythm and to support hormonal health.  Hal Elrod’s book The Morning Miracle is a great read if you need more convincing; perhaps one for the camping holiday. Artemis Liver Detox Tea is a great option: one cup on rising each day for a month, at least twice a year.  This is a gentle, swiss-formulated herbal blend to support your digestive function.
  2. Consider taking a good-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement. Our soils are depleted of some key nutrients so this is a good way to improve your nutritional status.
  3. Try to get as much physical movement into your day as possible: we know it, we just don’t always want to hear it but yes, the stairs are a better option. Parking further away from the supermarket entrance will not only benefit you physically, but it may save your car from accidental damage from stressed, distracted drivers. The likes of a fitbit or an Apple watch can be great tools  for keeping you accountable, so Santa may need a hint about one of these.
  4. Get out in nature.  We have so many beautiful gardens, parks, beaches and other public areas across Otago so make the most of them, when possible.  A beach walk after work is so refreshing, as is just leaving the office to sit in the sunshine to have your lunch.
  5. Meditation in the evening, with dim lighting, before bed, is a nice way to initiate the sleep response.  Headspace is a great app for this.  A good quality sleep will make all the difference to your coping mechanisms.
  6. Live in the moment and remember to laugh.  As Richard Carlson says in his book, Don’t sweat the small stuff ...  and it’s all small stuff.

-By Deanna Copland

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