Tips and tricks to staying healthy this Christmas
Should you work out after a night out? What, if anything, should you eat on a hangover? Are some cocktails less unhealthy than others? Our nutrition team weighs in.
As the days are getting colder and darker, appetite noticeably increases. Instead of tucking into a pie or toastie, consider soups as an excellent option for a filling, nutritious, and warming meal. You can pack so much goodness into a soup and they are incredibly cost effective, leaving some money left over for festive fun! Make sure to include these ingredients in your soup to get a complete meal:
- Protein: meat, fish, beans & pulses
- Good-quality stock
- Low-GI carbs: sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice
- Something extra: toasted seeds, cheese or chilli flakes
Canapés can be a minefield for those trying to stay on track over Christmas. Skipping meals with the intention of overindulging at a party is unlikely to be a good idea, especially when faced with a plate of canapés on an empty stomach. One drink down and willpower easily escapes us! Instead, try having a substantial protein-rich afternoon snack before heading out. We suggest:
- Nut butter and oatcakes
- ½ avocado
- A couple of boiled eggs
- Carrots and hummus
When it comes to cocktails, it's the sweet mixers, sugar, and syrups that make them more unhealthy than your average alcoholic beverage. Vodka martinis, or a vodka with soda water and fresh lime, are the least sugary options.
Champagne and Prosecco are lower in sugar content and calories than wine, but if you are choosing wine, go for red rather than white. Mulled wine and cider is loaded with sugar, it may be festive but sadly it is not doing you any good in the long run.
As well as being high in calories, alcohol has a diuretic effect and can contribute to the depletion of water-based vitamins and electrolytes. Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, D, E, K, as well as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, selenium, tyrosine and folate need an extra boost if you are consuming alcohol.
Hydration is absolutely key whilst drinking, so try and have a glass of water between each drink. A sneaky tip if you decide not to drink is to ask for a long cocktail glass with some ice, soda water, fresh lemon and a sprig of mint. No one will be able to tell the difference and you’ll feel so much better for it the next morning!
Sleep is incredibly important for our wellbeing and poor-quality or lack of sleep, can affect everything from our waistlines to our digestive and cardiovascular health, and blood sugar balance.
Alcohol disrupts the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is needed to feel rested when you wake up. Additionally, after drinking, your biological processes are put under strain as your liver is working overtime to detox your body, which further reduces your sleep quality.
It may be tempting to get up early and hit the gym to try and counteract an evening of over-indulgence, but this may not necessarily be the best thing for your overall wellbeing.
During the winter months, your immune system is working hard to fend off colds and flu, and lack of sleep leaves your body lacking the energy to fight off illnesses. Sleep deprivation impairs your immune responses by disrupting the circadian rhythms that control hormones and the production of protective immune cells1.
Try and get as much sleep as you can after a party and try and catch up on sleep the following night.