December can be a pretty stressful month with the rush to get everything done before Christmas and the holidays. Combine that with too many parties and it’s no wonder that so many people seem to get run down by the end of the month. So, unless you’re careful, the run up to Christmas and New Year can undo months of healthy living in just three short weeks.
So how do we stay healthy without staying home every night? I find that the clients who plan ahead a little and don’t overdo it fare the best, so here are some tips to see you through the party season.
Food – eat small amounts, combining protein with carbohydrates to keep energy levels up. If you are going to a celebration lunch then make sure you eat a snack mid-morning, and have another late afternoon if you are going to an early evening event. Make sure you have some easy to eat protein snacks on hand – hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon in the fridge at work or at home – so that you can eat something before you go out in the evening. Main meals can be as simple as chicken with salad and a couple of oat cakes, fish with mash and carrots or an open sandwich or wrap. This will manage your hunger so that when you arrive at a party or reception you won’t dive into the canapés.
Alcohol – aside from the calories, alcohol has the ability to change our focus. Even if you have exercised and eaten well that day, or have an early start for an important day, that second glass can somehow make you careless. My advice is to have one glass of alcohol and then two non-alcoholic drinks. Always refuse a top up from a passing waiter as it’s too easy to lose count of how much you have had. When you have finished the glass of wine or Champagne, put the empty glass back on the tray and take a juice or water instead. My favourite drink at this time of year is tonic water with Angostura bitters – it looks and feels like a real drink but it’s almost alcohol-free.
Time – however busy you are, try and arrange not to go out more than two nights in a row. Ideally not even for a quick drink after work, but instead do something that is relaxing such as a yoga class, a massage or a night at home in front of the television. This should help you avoid the combination of fatigue and stress that triggers adrenaline release leaving you feeling ‘tired but wired’.