Nutrition Science

My top tips for a Healthy Christmas

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

Top tips for a healthy Christmas!

As Christmas is upon us, and we prepare for the usual over-indulgence (let’s be honest!), I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on my last year, and to share a few words of wisdom from my nutrition and lifestyle medicine training. You see, it’s not just about the diet – I cannot emphasize enough the role that stress plays on our health and wellbeing, and the importance of celebrating our wins too.

  • This time last year, I was about to embark on a new series of workshops – EAT TO THRIVE. After three successful rounds and a whole bunch of happy “Thrivers”, I’m really looking forward to continuing to run this in person (book here) and online (details to follow!)
  • I’m also expanding my Wimbledon clinic to accommodate more 1-2-1 personalised nutrition clients, starting with a open day offering 30 minute mini-sessions on Sat 19th Jan to help you kick off your healthy lifestyle in 2019 – make sure you book your slot soon!
  • And, I’ll be running my next children’s nutrition workshop on 9th February, to help our little ones thrive too.

What have you got planned for 2019? I do hope to see you at an event soon!

Whilst Christmas is a joyful time of the year, it often comes with plenty of pressures too, so my top tip is: don’t make food another stress! Enjoy yourselves this Christmas, be relaxed and just take the opportunity to nourish yourself where you can as well. In the meantime, here are a few “gift” ideas for your body:

  1. Balance your blood sugar. When we consume large meals or sugary snacks, we spike the level of glucose in our blood, inducing that surge of energy followed by a slump and increased hunger. What our body is actually doing is working in “emergency mode” and the end result is that we are more likely to store those extra calories as fat. Opting for smaller portion sizes, as well as combining fibre and protein with each and every meal, helps to balance those blood glucose levels, ultimately helping us to feel fuller and satisfied for longer, and not pile on the extra pounds.
  2. Seek out the nutrient-dense Christmas treats. Nutritionists often refer to white sugar and highly refined carbohydrate foods as “anti-nutrients”. This is because they are so low in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that our body actually uses more nutrients in the process of digesting them than it gets back in return. 70% dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, dates are rich in minerals such as magnesium, and nuts are a great source of protein, healthy fats and fibre, so why not opt for these over milk chocolate and sweets?
  3. Don’t scrimp on the organic sprouts! Brussel sprouts form part of the brassica family of vegetables, along with cabbages and other leafy greens. These foods are key in supporting our bodies to detoxify, so if we’re perhaps indulging in a little more alcohol than usual, making sure we eat plenty of brassicas can help towards mitigating the effects. Also, opting for organic foods that are free from pesticides can lighten the load on our on our bodies to detoxify, so also help to keep us feeling well.
  4. Support your gut bacteria. The health and diversity of our gut bacteria is a huge and rapidly emerging area of science that has been linked with immune function, brain health and weight. Sadly, high-sugar foods feed the not-so-beneficial bacteria in our gut, and can tip the balance away from the healthy type. To keep your healthy bacteria on top form, feed them lots of high fibre foods like onions, garlic, bananas, rocket and oats. And why not add in some probiotic foods like sauerkraut to accompany your cheeseboard, or kombucha as an alternative soft drink?
  5. Take time off to relax and unwind. Studies of populations around the world have shown that, regardless of religious beliefs, being spiritual and engaging with those we love can increase our health and lifespan. So switch off from work and social media, go for a gentle walk outside, and reconnect with friends and family.

Of course, none of these actions is going to save us completely from the potential impact of poor food and drink choices this Christmas, but each and every time you manage one of them, know that you are doing something good for your body. And whatever you do, enjoy what you eat and celebrate without the stress.

Merry Christmas to you all! Catherine x

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