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Eight Tips for your December Holiday

It’s holiday time! Whether you are sweltering in the summer heat, gearing up for a white winter, almost en-route to your grand vacation or visiting the infamous ‘remain here’, December is the season to be jolly.

Many feel that December is the pinnacle of all that they have worked for in terms of their health and wellness goals. At the end of the year I tend to hear these anxious quivers of “I have worked so hard the whole year on my body, what am I going to do in December”.

The answer is simple. Live.

While I remind you that working on your health – both body and mind – should be viewed as a lifetime investment not a sporadic short-lived purchase, I understand and hear your concerns about letting loose in the silly season. Bearing this in mind, there are most certainly tips which you can put into action to make sure you feel your best and stay well on track of your health journey.

1 Eat Mindfully and Intuitively
We briefly chatted about mindful eating during the festive season in my blog. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally, moment to moment. Intuitive eating is a healthy means to preventing this holiday’s bottomless stomach syndrome. It is all about assessing how hungry you are before you reach for that juicy braaied food and then dishing up according to your hunger and not your deceiving eyes. Tune into your body and feel your fullness. This not only prevents you from feeling overfull and uncomfortable when you should be feeling glitzed and glammed up to socialize, but it also help keep that weight under control as intuitive eating helps in lowering body mass index and fat percentage. Holidays are a great opportunity to notice those colours, textures and flavours on your plate and enjoy your food. So, go on, try to make peace with your food by honouring your hunger and respecting your fullness.

2 Beyond Gut Feelings
There is nothing worse than feeling tired, bloated and having an unsettled tummy while you on holiday. Do not underestimate the effect that your gut health can have on you feeling your best. One’s gut bacteria helps in defining their metabolism. Appetite control is based mainly on the gut-brain signalling, with the gut’s bacteria contributing to the messages being sent to your satiety and hunger centres in your brain. Evidenced shows that there is a key link between the bacteria that makes up one’s gut and obesity. With a new area known as “psychobiotics”, we now also understand how your happiness and feeling calm hinges on that gut-brain connection. Where ever you are this holiday keep a look out for natural sources of probiotics (fermented or pickled products such as kefir, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables and kombucha) which help your gut foundation. Also eat prebiotics and wholegrain products like apples, bananas, asparagus, garlic, artichoke, leeks, onions, chia and flax seeds and legumes. Lastly, don’t forget to use apple cider vinegar as a base for your dressings or simply have a teaspoon every morning to decrease the acidity building up from your festive indulgences.

3 Stay hydrated
In between your champagne or gin and tonic sipping, be sure to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is important for both summer and winter. The adult body is made up of up to 60% of water and it is involved in every process that takes place in your body. Without staying hydrated you may not be providing your body with what it needs to keep you energized, promote digestion, keep your metabolism ticking and keep your hair and skin glowing.  Water is a key component in flushing those toxins that build-up over the holidays from our kidneys and liver, preventing headaches and hangovers after a big night as well as keeping those hunger cues at bay, as most of the times we are thirsty and not hungry.

4 Keep moving
What better way to explore a place than by foot. Holidays are a great opportunity to get active, whether it be hiking, swimming, biking, exploring a city or just a leisurely stroll. Those extra steps aren’t only an enjoyable adventure, but you will feel more energized, promote gut health and keep your energy and calorie balance in check. Moderate exercise protects you from developing chronic diseases and weight gain by gently stimulating an anti-inflammatory cascade in the body. Slip in some squats, lunges, jumps or sprints along the way whether it be on the beach, in your bathroom while you brush your teeth or in the kitchen while you make your breakfast.

5 Pump up those detox foods
There is no denying that those cocktails will be drunk, braais (or barbeques) will be enjoyed, coffee dates will be made, and overindulgence may occur. In fact, your environmental toxin exposure may also increase depending on where you hanging out this holiday. Unfortunately, although enjoyable, these things put pressure on our liver and our innate detoxification system. Your detoxification system acts like a cleaning service that spruces up your AirBnB after the pervious nights house party. Just like a cleaning service needs their equipment, so too does your liver. Impaired detoxification for a short period of time may not result in the chronic diseases development, but it can affect tiredness, headaches, mood, skin, sleep and result in that dreaded weight gain. Do it the natural way and include foods that help to ‘switch on’ the genes that support your detoxication system in your liver, helping your body breakdown toxins and excrete them naturally. Try to keep coffee down to maximum two cups per day. Put cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and other green leafy vegetables in the spotlight. Pile up on those raw summer salads and include a green juice or smoothie to your morning routine. These ingredients contain the bioactive sulforaphane which really pumps up your detox.

6 Variety
Variety is key to providing your body with all the nutrients it needs for the holiday period. By choosing a variety of food items you are not only keeping your meals interesting, but you are also feeding your body with different nutrients. Every food group hosts different health benefits, while different foods within each food group provide different key nutrients needed for health and wellness.

7 Plate up those vegetables
Try to have one vegetable-heavy meal per day. Alternatively, always ensure you have a side of vegetables included in a meal, and make sure some of them are raw. Vegetables are loaded with anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins, helping you feel your best. They also provide the fibre needed to keep your gut healthy and help you out with portion and appetite control – keeping the weight gain at bay.

8 Review your restaurant orders
Eating out often is a holiday fact. Slowly but surely those restaurant meals add up. Don’t forget to re-think your drink, choosing ones that are lower in sugar. Check out the menu and weigh up your options, taking into account the rest of the day. Try choosing a grilled piece of protein with a low GI starch and/or a side salad. Tread lightly with creamy dishes, dressings and rich, fried food choices. Going for the pasta or a dessert? That’s great. Remember that it is always an option to share these dishes with someone else, and when you do enjoy them, which you should, eat it mindfully, whole-heartedly and without guilt.

Oh wait, I forgot. One more thing…. Enjoy. Relax. Recharge…. Isn’t that what holidays are for?

Nourish yourself to the sunrise.

Written with love ,
Sunrise by HM

Nourished yet? Comment on what I should write about next?

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