For the majority of clients we can afford a little “loosening of the rules” over Christmas and New Year without too much backsliding. The only real problem is that many clients may find that they notice a much stronger reaction to junk foods and a junk lifestyle than they might have previous to starting a treatment plan; so if you are going to eat all of the rubbish – be prepared to actually feel rubbish for a few days!
This is not the time to throw everything you’ve done in the air with a cavalier attitude! You really won’t want to hit January feeling run down and despondent. However, I don’t want you to have to avoid socialising or not to be able to enjoy more traditional foods and so, here are ten points designed to help you enjoy a temporary relaxing of your current health and diet prescription without causing too much unnecessary physiological stress.
If you have a day ahead that you know is going to contain foods and drinks that you shouldn’t really be consuming, set yourself the rule that until midday you will:
- avoid all forms of sugar
- avoid all forms of grains
- consume at least 30g of quality protein (from organic eggs, meat, fish, whey protein or collagen hydrolysate)
- consume a good quantity of quality fats (lard, dripping or butter from grass-fed animals; or coconut oil)
You may want to have a full English, a veggie omelette, a hot coconut and chocolate shake or some bone broth over pan-fried or roasted veg. Make sure you have something delicious and nourishing that will sustain you until lunchtime without causing any sugar peaks or triggering any cravings.
You can significantly reduce the impact of baked goods if you can eat homemade. Whether you are baking muffins, brownies, cakes or biscuits try halving the quantity of sugar in the recipe and using gluten free flour. Score bonus points for adding in some ground nuts or grated veggies! It’s unlikely that anyone (including yourself) will notice the difference.
Most people increase either their caffeine or their alcohol intake during the festive season, both of which are dehydrating. Aim to stay hydrated by ensuring that you drink between 1.5 and 3 litres of water every day (although never drink more than 500ml of water in any one hour). If you can, add half a teaspoon of sea salt or Himalayan salt to your first glass of the day which will also help to keep your energy levels topped up.
Get your vegetables in
Use my winter vegetable dish suggestions to help include as many veggies as you can into your diet. Aim for at least three 80g portions of seasonal and organic vegetables every single day and aim for a range of roots, leafy greens and bulbs such as onions and garlic.
Find ways to relax
Work out ways to incorporate some restorative, screen-free down-time into every day. Reading, journaling, crafting, using my breathing and visualisation exercise, taking a gentle walk outside, napping (no longer than twenty minutes,) taking an Epsom salt bath, or even just sitting outside, wrapped up warm and with a hot drink in your hands are all great ways to switch off. Find the methods that help you personally to unwind and build them into every day of the holidays.
You don’t have to partake in consuming commercially produced greasy chocolate or cheap, tasteless “savoury-snacks!” You really don’t need to accept substandard coffee or the kind of wine that comes in a plastic cup… If you concentrate on quality you will find that the quantity will likely take care of itself. Buy in some excellent, organically produced chocolate, port, coffee, nuts and olives. Promise yourself that you will appreciate the care and time that went into curating such exquisite flavours. Find your cravings for festive rubbish gently melt away…
If you know that you will be drinking alcohol or eating junk food at any occasion, take two activated charcoal capsules before you go out, and two more as soon as you get home to help adsorb some of the inevitable toxicity. Note that using too much activated charcoal can cause constipation.
Prepare for journeys
Long car journeys followed by a stay at someone else’s house can upset the best of intentions – and the best of moods! Consider packing the following:
- Bottled water and flasks of herbal tea – or at least home brewed tea / coffee.
- Easily accessible and sustaining snacks such as oatcakes, dried fruit, nuts, homemade flapjack, cold meats, coconut yoghurt (and a spoon!) etc.
- Headphones, preferably noise cancelling
- Charcoal capsules (see above)
- Your prescribed supplements (you may wish to count these out into a segmented pill box)
- If you know that you cannot stray from your current prescribed dietary routine then pack everything you need. It’s never worth relying on your host or on service-stations to have the ingredients or products that you require.
No punishing salad and juice regimes
Often people are persuaded that spending a day or three on a raw juice and salad regime is a good way to purge themselves of excess festive anti-nutrients. Don’t do it! It’s literally the worst time of year to do this and you will cause far more stress to your body than the healing you intended for it. Have a warming, spiced vegetable soup for lunch; drink a tonic herbal tea and roast a tray of herbed seasonal, organic veggies for your evening meal. This is all the nutritional detox that you need during these few weeks.
Hopefully you are already following as many of my sleep tips as you are able. If you are out partying until dawn I would advise that you still set your alarm for no later than 7.30am. As soon as you wake up, help to support your cortisol cycle by getting some direct sunlight in your eyes and, if possible, on your skin. Get yourself outside during daylight hours for a walk if at all possible. Feel free to have a ten to twenty minute nap between midday and 2.30pm and then return to your usual bedtime that evening.