It is that fine, festive, food time of year again. You know the feeling; having to unbutton the top of your jeans to let the love handles ‘spill’ over. But before you attempt to set a new world record for the largest human chocolate consumption, take a second to review.
Despite our best intentions to eat right and stay on track nutritionally, the temptations are still there. But don’t get me wrong though, I’m no Christmas Grinch and am certainly not saying you should stay away from all the treats that make Christmas special, just exercise mindful eating:
- Eat in moderation
- Drink in moderation(alcohol is where the hidden calories are this time of year)
- Pace yourself.
- Buy quality food produce(if your going to eat your entire body weight in Turkey, at least make sure its Organic!)
As always, the best approach is prevention, balance and common sense.
Now the biggest criminal at the time of year is alcohol, so let’s have a look at how alcohol affects the body, as although I’m not advocating drinking, it’s not dubbed the ‘silly season’ for no reason. Alcohol consumption generally increases over Christmas and this can wreak havoc with our health if we’re not careful.
- From the moment an alcoholic drink enters the body, it’s treated as if it has special privileges – receiving priority treatment and getting absorbed and metabolized before most nutrients. You see, unlike food, which requires time for digestion, alcohol needs no digestion and is quickly absorbed, about 20 percent is absorbed directly across the walls of an empty stomach, so it is advisable to eat a decent meal before you head out.
- While alcohol affects every organ in the body, the most dramatic evidence of its disruptive behavior appears in the liver. If more alcohol arrives at the liver than the enzymes can handle, the extra alcohol travels to all parts of the body, circulating again and again until liver enzymes are finally able to process it. This is why it’s important to drink slowly enough for the liver to keep up – never more than one drink per hour.
- Physical symptoms felt during a hangover are numerous and varied from one person to another – in general drinking a large glass of water before going to bed can help ‘take the edge off’ the morning after.
Here’s a brief overview of some herbs and supplements that can help with most forms of over indulgence:
- Burdock root (herb) – cleanses the blood stream. Aids elimination of excess fluid and toxins. Purifies the blood, restores liver and gallbladder function, and stimulates the digestive and immune systems. Best taken in the form of a liquid herb, which should available at your local health store.
- Willow Bark – This herb is also known as ‘Nature’s aspirin,’ and can be mixed with cold water as a bitter tonic to help with a common symptom of over indulgence, the ‘toxic’ headache. Willow bark tinctures are available ready-made at many health food stores.
- Magnesium – Both alcohol and poor dietary choices deplete the body’s stores of this important mineral and this can be the reason behind excessive fatigue and headaches after over indulgence. Over the counter, powder form is the most readily absorbed in the body.
- Fennel – Throw a few fennel seeds into a hot cup of tea for improved liver function. Fennel is a restorative herb, and can help bring your liver back into working order.
- B-vitamin supplements – helpful as they can reduce alcohol cravings and provide a boost of energy. Vitamins in general can help the body detoxify naturally, reducing the effects of alcohol or unhealthy food.
- Aloe vera juice – soothes stomach irritation, and acts as a mild laxative. Aloe not only has a healing effect, but if constipation or diarrhea is present, it will return the stools to normal.
- Anise – aids digestion. Make up a hot drink combining approximately a decent pinch of dried anise, ½ a teaspoon of ginger root and cinnamon, a teaspoon of Manuka honey, a squeeze of lemon juice and hot water.
- Cascara – helps if you are all clogged up as acts as a colon cleanser and laxative. Best taken in tablet form, and start with the lowest dose recommended on the bottle, as this herb can be quite powerful in it’s effects!
- Cinnamon – relieves diarrhea and nausea, counteracts congestion, warms the body and enhances digestion. Why not add some to your festive cooking?
- Ginger – protects the liver and stomach and is a great herb for indigestion. It soothes the stomach and is renowned for alleviating symptoms such as nausea, bloating, and stomachache.
- Milk thistle – protects the liver from toxins and pollutants by preventing free radical damage and stimulates the production of new liver cells. Also protects the kidneys, which are one of our major detoxifying organs. Best taken in either liquid herb or tablet form.
- Peppermint – increases stomach acidity, aiding digestion. A great post dinner tea to help ease bloating if you indulged a little too much!
- Slippery elm – soothes the stomach and puts a protective lining on it. It’s also great for mixing into smoothies to keep irritable bowel syndrome symptoms at bay (most of which tend to flare up for people around Christmas time!)
- Guarana – acts as a general tonic, stimulant, and intestinal cleanser. It also increase mental alertness, improves stamina and endurance.
- Dandelion – the bitter properties of dandelion root work by stimulating digestive secretions. It’s also a fantastic detoxifying herb, supporting both the liver and kidneys. It’s available from most health foods in tea form or coffee like granules.
- Chlorophyll – natural plant food, similar in appearance and taste to spirulina. It’s a good detoxifier and blood cleanser, and helps ‘mop up’ internal toxins and take them out of the body.
Indulging with family and friends nourishes the soul so enjoy, use common sense and support your body by using herbs and supplements where you can. Then, when the ‘silly season’ is over, get back to basics and face your 2012 fitness goals head on.
“And remember, a minute on the lips – the whole month of January on your hips!”
I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a lovely Christmas season, Thank you for continuing support to myself and my fitness ‘culture’, you are the reason I keep doing what I’m doing year after year. Enjoy your time off, relax, rest and recoup, ready for 2012. I myself have a few days off here and there and am planning to hit the beach with nothing but a good book!
Yours in good health,