Preparing for the party season

We all like to let our hair down once in a while, but we also want to avoid feeling fatigued and under-the-weather the following day. Considering last year’s Christmas was spent under restrictions it’s easy to get carried away this festive period but fortunately, there are many tips and tricks that our team of nutritionists has shared to help avoid hangovers and to maintain homeostasis (balance) in the body.



SUPPORT YOUR BODY'S NATURAL DETOXIFICATION PROCESS

Detoxification is a natural bodily function that is occurring all the time. The liver serves as our main detoxification organ in the body, however many other systems are also required such as the bowels, kidneys, lymphatic system, and the skin.

To support our detoxification pathways we need to provide our bodies with the nutrients required for breaking down toxins, neutralizing them ,and safely removing them from the body. A varied diet, full of different plant-based whole foods is important, especially cruciferous vegetables, such as watercress, kale and broccoli,and allium vegetables, such as leeks, garlic and onions. We should also include a rainbow of different colored foods to achieve a variety of phytonutrients, which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, for example; resveratrol from red grapes, lycopene from cooked tomatoes and quercetin from apples. Slow bowel movements can mean that toxins are held in the body for longer, increasing the chance of them being reabsorbed. To improve the elimination of toxins from the body, we should aim to increase our water and fiber intake from fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and beans, nuts, and seeds. Alongside adding to our nutrient intake, we should also reduce our toxic load by reducing or eliminating alcohol, smoking, processed foods, avoiding polluted areas and avoiding plastics, and harmful chemicals from cleaning and personal care products. 


IT'S ALL ABOUT BALANCE

Eat a small and nutritious meal before leaving the house if you know a beige buffet is on the party menu. Prepare something that is high in antioxidants and liver supporting nutrients, such as a hearty vegetable, turmeric, and bean stew, that way you’re safe in the knowledge that you’ve had some nutritional support before eyeing up what the buffet table has to offer.

Eating before drinking will line your stomach and slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. Alcohol sends our blood-sugar into a crazy roller coaster of peaks and troughs, so eating a meal containing healthy proteins and fats can help to stabilize blood sugars.

When choosing what to nibble on at a buffet, opt for whole foods where possible including good quality proteins and fats such as cold meats, salmon, cheese, egg, houmous and team them with vegetable crudités, olives, and salad.


OFFICE CHOCOLATES

If you’re back in the office this year and can’t resist the large tubs of chocolates doing the rounds in the lead-up to Christmas, choose the chocolates which also contain nuts and avoid ones with sticky sweet fillings. That way, as well as getting a sweet fix from the chocolate, the nuts provide a little healthy protein and fat, which help to maintain blood-sugar levels, rather than spiking them.

A super alternative to the tubs of chocolates (if you’re trying to stay on the straight and narrow) are the traditional bags of mixed whole nuts which require nut crackers to break the shells, with all the effort of getting into them, they’ll taste even better and you’re less likely to over-indulge.


Switch your go-to drink

Consider altering what you drink as some alcoholic drinks, namely red wine, also have beneficial health effects when consumed in moderation. The polyphenols in red wine act as antioxidants, preventing cellular damage and counteracting the pro-oxidant effect of ethanol. Beverages that have low concentrations of phenolic compounds, such as white wine, beer, or spirits on the other hand, are more likely to have unbeneficial pro-oxidant effects.

If you’re staying in more over the festive period, why not try to make your own Christmas spiced kombucha, adding in cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. Whilst this drink tastes great on its own and provides lots of healthy bacteria and yeasts, it also makes an excellent alternative to cola when mixed with a little rum! Kombucha is made from fermenting tea using a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), you can buy kombucha starter kits online which include everything you need to get you started.


CURING A HANGOVER

The day after a big night out it’s tempting to reach for the junk food, but this is actually when we need to be giving our liver some love and replenish the nutrients that alcohol has depleted. Why not try starting the morning after with a large mug of green tea for its antioxidant benefits, additionally, green tea has also shown to have mood-improving properties as well as providing some much-needed energy.


Christmas dinner and all the trimmings

The traditional Christmas lunch of turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce and potatoes isn’t necessarily unhealthy, especially if cooked from scratch and accompanied by lots of veggies. However, the issue is usually the volume that people eat.

Over-eating will significantly increase calorie intake, so if you are trying to lose weight, it is best not to over-indulge. Over-eating also puts pressure on the digestive system as your stomach has to physically expand to accommodate the additional volume, potentially leading to discomfort. There is also an increased need for stomach acid, digestive enzymes and bile in order to break down the food. If the digestive system can’t keep up with demand, this can have a negative impact on digestive symptoms.

Aim to cover half your plate with a variety of vegetables first and then add on the protein (turkey or nut roast) which should make up quarter of the plate, leaving the last quarter for the roast potatoes. Instead of simply roast potatoes, why not try adding in sweet potatoes, swede and turnip to add some further nutrients into the carbohydrate portion. Make gravy from scratch and use the leftover vegetable water which not only adds taste, but also includes the B vitamins which have leached out of the vegetables.

To prevent over-eating it can be useful to practice mindful eating habits, to help you slow down and tune into satiety (fullness) signals being sent from the gut to the brain. Eating off a smaller plate can sometimes help trick the brain into eating less food, as well as putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls, chewing your food well, and turning off all distractions such as the television, computer or your phone.