Christmas cheer

Enjoy a happy, healthy Christmas with these tips from registered nutritional therapist Michaella Mazzoni

It goes without saying that 2020 has been stressful in so many ways and the festive season feels like a welcome relief. This guide has been designed to help you enjoy a happy and healthy Christmas, with tips for looking after your digestive system, liver and energy levels.

Start on the right note

Set the day up with a breakfast which is going to give you slow-releasing, sustainable energy and keep your blood sugar at a steady rate. Porridge with some protein powder stirred in with nuts, nut butter and fruit is a perfect example. Other breakfast ideas are baked eggs or protein pancakes.

Support your digestion

It isn’t uncommon to feel bloated or a bit sluggish after the second and possibly third helping of fruit cake. Keep your digestive system supported by chewing your food well; this helps the breakdown of food and allows your stomach a bit of extra time to notify your brain that you are full. You can also take a digestive enzyme complex – these are available to buy online and in health food shops. Digestive enzymes are particularly useful if you find that you sometimes struggle with digesting fatty foods or dairy. (Always check with your GP before starting new supplements.)

Get a good night’s sleep

It’s tricky for the body to cope well with stress when we haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Support your sleep by getting into a routine that doesn’t include screens 30 to 45 minutes before you get into bed. Unwind instead during that time with stretching, doing a facemask or reading a book. Some people even find that doing rhythmic tasks like the dishes helps to relax them before bed, although I can’t say I’m one of them!

Look after your liver

If you are drinking over Christmas, it is more important than ever to keep yourself hydrated with one to two litres of water throughout the day. Keeping hydrated will also help with your digestion, skin and avoiding headaches. Herbal teas and flavoured water all count towards your two litres! All the extra sugar and alcohol that usually comes with Christmas has to get processed somewhere and that job goes to the liver. In addition to keeping hydrated throughout the day, eat plenty of bitter foods like rocket and radishes, citrus fruits like lemon and lime as well as the brassica family (including Brussels sprouts) as this will help to keep your liver well supported. You can also take a milk thistle supplement to support your liver over the holidays.

Drink smarter to avoid hangovers

While alcohol doesn’t have health benefits, there are ‘healthier’ ways to drink it. Choose wine or spirits instead of pre-made cocktails, which are almost always packed with sugar and artificial colours. If you find that wine can make you feel a bit groggy and don’t want to avoid it completely, try an organic or sulphate-free wine. With all the extra time at home, why not schedule a Zoom cocktail-making party with your friends? You could make drinks that include fresh citrus and Christmassy herbs like rosemary instead of sugar laden pre-made cocktails. Eating fats like nuts, seeds and olives will help your body to metabolize the alcohol. This, along with some milk thistle and a glass of water per alcoholic drink, will help you to avoid that fuzzy feeling the next day.

Balance your blood sugar

We only need one teaspoon of sugar in our entire body at one time. Any time we have more than that, our blood sugar spikes and we release insulin to pull it back down. We often feel this drop at 11am or 3pm in the afternoon. Avoid the ups and downs of blood sugar by including protein and/or fat each time you eat sugar, carbohydrates or fruit. For example, try pairing your gingerbread cookies with a small handful of nuts.

Enjoy yourself!

Doing things that make us happy has been scientifically proven to improve our physical health. I apply the ‘most of the time principle’ in my nutrition clinic. You don’t have to eat ‘perfectly’ over the holidays; aim to get in five fruits and vegetables, some you-time to relax, one to two litres of water and the rest of the time focus on enjoying the holidays. You certainly deserve it!

YHL’s top tip

The festive cocktail of Brussels sprouts, brandy butter with Christmas pudding, and a glass or two more than usual of your favourite tipple may not make Christmas such a joyous occasion for those with sensitive stomachs. If you are prone to indigestion and acid reflux, make sure you have some colloidal silicic acid gel to hand to help cope with this change in diet. It treats heartburn, acid reflux and vomiting, and other embarrassing and uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms such as flatulence, stomach pain and abdominal discomfort. Containing the compounds silicon and oxygen in a hydrated form, just a small amount of colloidal silicic acid gel coats the stomach and upper gastrointestinal tract with a protective lining. The gel acts as a magnet attracting toxins and pathogens and adsorbs excess acidity and gases, reducing their ability to cause inflammation and pain.

Michaella Mazzoni, Registered NT, DipCNM mBANT CNHC reg, offers private nutrition consultations as well as video consultations to help support all areas of health. To book an appointment, email Michaella at info@michaellamazzoninutrition.com or call 07786 841 333.

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