CAN YOU HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT THIS CHRISTMAS?08 Dec 2021, Posted by FYS News in
Can you be healthy during the festive period?
Is it possible?
Does staying healthy mean I have to compromise on the indulgence and miss out on all the fun of the festive season?
Yes, it’s possible. In my eyes, you can have your cake and eat it.
Here are some ideas for how to do it.
1. Build a Plate
Often the traditional Christmas dinner is a self-service style “buffet” mean. Which is perfect for my Build a Plate tool. If you build your meals this way, at least the basic ratios for the main nutrients and the focus on vegetables is built in.
- 50% of it vegetables or whole fruits
- 25% of it as protein
- remaining 25% is the carbohydrate bit (e.g. bread, potato, rice, pasta etc)
A 12-hour over-night fast is a key foundation for a healthy gut and gut brain axis. It is when our digestive system gets a chance to reset. Christmas tends to be when we extend the eating window, it can feel like a 24-hour eating window at times, but this is really a simple one to fix.
If you are having late night dinner and drinks delay breakfast until at least 12 hours from the last calorie intake (meal, snack or alcohol). If you can extend the fast to 13 or 14 hours, even better.
Start the day with plenty of water. You can put lemon, ginger or rosemary in the water. Coffee or tea is ok but no milk or sugars as both will add calories and therefore technically “break” the fast.
3. Get the quick wins with Ferments, fibre & flavonoids
Look for simple ways to add ferments, fibre and flavonoids. That way, at least you are eating the things that help support and protect your microbiome and brain.
Here are some simple, and perhaps surprising things you can consider:
- raw cheese for some ferments on the cheese board
- don’t peel! Save time and add some more fibre to the veggies
- dark chocolate for the flavanols
- eat cold potatoes – a great source of resistant starch which your gut microbiome will love
It’s nothing you don’t know already, but alcohol is empty calories and the fastest way to get brain fog and low energy. We know this but we get caught up in bad habits.
So, choose to pick a new habit. Choose your low or non-alcoholic tipple; there are lots of these available now.
My personal preference right now is to either have Aperol Spritz without the Cava (Aperol + Sparkling water or Fever Tree Tonic) as my lower alcohol tipple and a Kombucha for alcohol free. Once you have decided what you are going to drink…..it’s much easier to stick with that decision and not be swayed.
5. Morning light
I know it is the depth of winter and light can be hard to come by but making the most of the daylight there is will help your sleep, digestion, metabolic rate, circadian rhythms and improve your mood. If you want to learn more about this, I highly recommend this episode from the Huberman podcast. https://hubermanlab.com/dr-samer-hattar-timing-light-food-exercise-for-better-sleep-energy-mood/
Plus, getting outside will usually involve a bit of exercise, so a double bonus.
6. Stay well
A little tip I want to share for supporting your immune system.
I use this if I am travelling or going to be in larger groups. Propolis spray and lozenge- propolis is the “glue” that bees make and use as a sealant in the hive. It has a traditional medicine use for immune support. A recent review concluded it has promising actions in supporting key parts of the immune system such as reducing inflammation and reducing cytokine storms.
What I particularly like about the sprays and lozenges is that they work directly on the mucosal membranes where we have one of the first lines of immune defence, secretary IgA. You can find sprays and lozenges in health food shops and sometimes in big pharmacies.
NB propolis is contraindicated for anyone who has an allergy to bee stings or bee pollen.
Sneak Peek into my FFT community
I love sharing these ideas and tips, but I also know that sometimes things can be easy to get in theory but harder to follow up in practice.
This is exactly why I have a monthly drop in class as part of my Food for Thought Foundation programme. The Monday drop in class was on this topic. We had discussions, shared ideas and everyone made their plan for how they will stay healthy through the Christmas period; perhaps the most important gift to themselves.
The truth is, it is easier to put the theory into practice when you have support around you.
Wishing everyone a fabulous (and healthy) Christmas!