Hands up, when it comes to food and drink, who gets a bit carried away in December (or maybe even earlier)? Once you start seeing the mince pies and Christmas treats on the supermarket shelves do you start convincing yourself it's ok to overindulge as much as you want now because you're planning a big detox in January?
Hands up, who gets to 1st January feeling sluggish, bloated and a few kilos heavier than you'd like to be, regretting at least half of the over-indulging with zero motivation for the health kick you'd promised yourself?
Hands up, who finds sticking to New Year's resolutions, detoxes and healthy eating plans incredibly hard and you have a past record of usually ditching them by mid Jan?
Just like I highlighted earlier on in my festive wellbeing posts about the need for more rest and recharge as part of your self-care at this time of year, the same goes for replenishment. As we fast approach the end of the year you may feel like you're already running on empty. So now is the time to fuel yourself with more nutrient dense foods and drinks rather than empty calories. Whilst the odd mince pie and mulled wine isn't likely to hurt, over indulging too frequently and too heavily throughout the entire month is damaging on multiple levels. For a start, you'll be sending your blood sugar levels on a crazy roller coaster ride. This can instantly impact your energy levels, ability to focus, mood regulation, and can even reduce your immune function (not to mention add to your waste line).
Getting enough nutrients in to your system if you're filling up on empty calories is not so easy and if your schedule is more hectic that ever, (and includes more alcohol and less sleep), there's another strong argument that you need more nourishment, not less. If you're in the Northern Hemisphere you also need to factor in the cold winter weather, lots of bugs in circulation and less day light (impacting both vitamin D levels and circadian rhythm - your natural body clock).
So, what is the best way to strike the optimum balance of fun and wellbeing when it comes to REPLENISHMENT? You don't want to feel like there are so many rules in place that you're depriving yourself of a good time. Yet you do want plenty of energy and focus to fit everything in. And you do want to build a strong immune system to fight off all the bugs and lurgies.
Here are some of my top tips for festive wellbeing with REPLENISHMENT:
1) Follow the 80:20 rule - for 80% of the time prioritise nutrient packed foods and drinks. This should include plenty of different vegetables and some fruit, good fats (it's the transfats you need to avoid the most), complete proteins and a variety of wholegrains. The other 20% allows you plenty of flexibility for when you're in festive mode and want to have a more relaxed approach. This might mean saying yes to dessert, or ordering whatever you fancy from the menu when you eat out. If you're eating out every day of the week, you'll have to make healthier choices for some of these (and have lighter meals at other meal times).
2) Don't let a hangover side track you! It's all too tempting to reach for the junk foods when you're feeling a bit fragile from over doing it the night before. But this is exactly the time your body needs an extra boost of nutrients, not more toxins, refined carbs and transfats to tax your system even more. Pack in the antioxidants and ensure you get some good quality fats and proteins into your first meal to help stabilise your blood sugar levels and support the detoxification processes. You will thank yourself later when you've had a quicker recovery.
3) Rethink treats and comfort foods. There are so many ways of making all of the traditional treats and comforts that you've come to love at this time of year with a slightly healthier twist. Here are some examples:
- Home baking with reduced sugar (you could try adding some honey, maple syrup or even stevia intead of sugar) and swapping white flour for wholegrain varieties.
- Enjoy a few squares of good quality dark chocolate instead of scoffing the entire bar of milk chocolate. Make sure you avoid products with palm oil.
- Add in extra veggies to receipes like spag bol or fajitas (grate carrots and pumpkin or finely chop brocolli and kale to hide it from the little poeple if they're a bit fussy) and swap white pasta for wholegrain, lentil or bean varieties.
- Instead of mashed potato do mashed mixed root veggies which are packed with fibre and a wider mix of nutrients - aim for rainbows of colour.
Comfort foods really don't have to be naughty to be comforting - think hearty soups, stews and casseroles that literally nourish the mind, body and soul.
The point is that you really don't have to feel you're missing out on anything. Applying some moderation and being more mindful about your choices is going to do you the world of good. And you'll be so grateful for it when you reach January and can still fit into your favourite clothes!