The magical month of December is here once again. I love the festive season. The days are filled with sunshine, social events and delicious food. But December isn’t here without its difficulties. The array of indulgent treats that cannot be avoided present a problem for many of my clients. So I’ve put together my thoughts on how to find balance this Christmas.
Say you have a specific health issue that you are trying to treat with dietary changes, such as leaky gut (no gluten) or candida overgrowth (low/no sugar). The key to getting through the Christmas season is planning ahead. Initiate an honest conversation with dinner hosts/restaurants about your dietary needs in advance or explain that you will be bringing something for yourself.
Give yourself permission
While we must honour and nurture our physical bodies, we must also nourish our emotional self. Sharing a meal or a drink with friends and family brings joy into our lives. If you have been working on improving your diet, a day of indulging will not undo all that hard work. On these days, you can counter the negative effects of more sugar, fat and alcohol by adding in some additional digestive and liver support. Letting go of the strict standards we put on ourselves is part of self-love and in itself can be immensely healing.
Support your digestion
Here are my top tips for optimising your body’s processing of dietary “bad guys”:
- Drink fresh lemon/apple cider vinegar in warm water each morning to give your digestion a boost. It stimulates the vagus nerve, which is largely responsible for digestive secretions. If your tummy struggles with indigestion and reflux at the best of times, you may benefit from taking betaine hydrochloride and digestive enzymes to get you through.
- Add in a liver support supplement over the Christmas period. St Mary’s Thistle, Globe Artichoke and Turmeric are among my favourite herbs to support bile acid production (breaks down fat), support detoxification and protect the liver against damage.
- Take a daily probiotic such as Saccharomyces boulardii to help control gut bugs that are prone to growing out of control when we eat and dink more sugar.
Support your mind
Stress levels can go up this time of year with more work pressures, increased busyness on the road/at the shops and less free time – which is exactly why we all need to prioritise finding time to calm the mind. Checking in with the breath each hour or a 15 minute morning meditation is enough to switch on your parasympathetic nervous system, the part of your nervous system which is responsible for “rest and digest” activities, such as producing stomach acid.
Don’t let guilt ruin Christmas
Perhaps the appeal of the Christmas spread was a little too good and you ate too much, leaving you feeling unwell and disappointed in yourself. What a perfect opportunity to turn that guilt into something positive and practice self-forgiveness. Holding onto negative feelings toward the self only exacerbates health issues. So let those feelings go and replace them with something positive, such as looking forward to the goals you’re going to kick in 2018!
Looking for recipes that take into consideration your dietary needs? At Narayani Wellness we love online resources by Teressa Cutter “The Healthy Chef”, Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar and Deliciously Ella, Jamie Oliver and Lola Berry also offer some great ideas in their cookbooks.