Christmas is almost upon us and the festive season brings with it a whole host of potential excesses which can leave us tired, run down and a few pounds heavier. However, with a bit of ‘damage limitation’ there’s plenty you can do to stop feeling less than tip top. There’s no need to avoid the parties and family gatherings; letting your hair down is good for the spirit. But how about making a few small changes with your ‘Christmas Resolutions’ this year, to prevent you feeling physically and mentally drained?

During The Festive Season

Tempting Christmas treats are full of all those ingredients you’re meant to avoid. With food intolerances and digestive disorders on the rise, it’s no wonder you end up feeling tired and run down if you overdo it. It can be hard to abstain when everyone else is tucking in, but keeping an element of routine can really help prevent overeating on the wrong foods. Try to stick to regular meals rather than snacking and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Not only will this fill you up and help you avoid tempting snack foods, it will provide plenty of nutrients to ward off cravings and keep energy levels up.

Remember that alcohol increases the speed of muscular contractions in the gastro-intestinal tract, so it has the effect of rushing food through the digestive system before it has been properly broken down. So, if you’re drinking alcohol, pace yourself and drink plenty of pure water alongside to avoid hangovers. Drink water regularly through the day to avoid constipation and dehydration, but avoid drinking fluids with meals because they dilute the digestive juices and can contribute to indigestion.

Gentle exercise every day will encourage good bowel function whilst increasing circulation and boosting energy levels. Fresh air can help clear a fuzzy head and restore your get-up-and-go. Take full advantage of morning lie-ins and afternoon power naps to recharge your batteries. Putting your feet up for 15 minutes bathes the kidney area with fresh blood, which revitalises the adrenal glands to ensure you’re ready to cope effectively with family and friends.

Christmas excesses aggravate gout, which is very common at this time of year. Minimising rich and high-purine foods like most meats, oats and yeast-containing offerings (beer and red wine in particular) is a must. If you find yourself suffering even after following these tips, you may find celery seed or burdock root tincture useful – ask in your local health food shop or check with your herbalist or homeopath as they may have the answer to gout relief.

‘New Year, New You’

The New Year is a good time to make changes in diet and lifestyle and quitting smoking is a popular one. Apart from increasing your risk for all types of disease, smoking also exposes you to over fifty known carcinogens. On top of those, what most people don’t know is that each cigarette contains around ½ teaspoon of processed sugar – something diabetic smokers are not aware of. Most smokers freely admit they’d like to quit. If you do smoke and would like to stop, it may be that what you need is not more motivation, but support and confidence that you can carry it through.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, smoking is considered a “compensatory” behaviour, used to warm up the lung qi. If you keep that area warm and cosy, you may find less need for smoking.

Find a buddy who wants to quit with you and enlist the support of family members to encourage you. Determine to avoid those situations where you used to smoke, until the cravings die down somewhat. Pay attention to your diet, eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans to stabilise your blood sugar levels and reduce cravings. Dips in blood sugar level are often when cravings arise, so opt instead for a healthy wholesome snack, like fresh fruit or carrot and celery sticks with hummus or sundried tomato and basil pesto. Fill your cupboards with healthy foods to avoid weight gain and plan ahead to prepare yourself for situations which induce cravings. Mulberries or cinnamon may be useful in reducing cravings and Vitamin C will aid detoxification. Be aware that you may experience headaches and irritability when you first give up. Here the services of your naturopath, herbalist or homeopath will be of great help.