Christmas parties are a great way of raising your spirits in the darkest month of the year. They will certainly get you out of the winter blues. However, they can take their toll on your body. Here, the combination of accumulated loss of sleep, hangovers, and rich food can leave you feeling wiped out before you even get to Christmas.
Here are some tips to help you to thrive rather than Survive The Christmas Party Season.
1. Stay hydrated to help detoxify the alcohol
As you increase alcohol intake, the body uses up more water to eliminate it from the body. The key is to drink more water than normal during the day to balance this out aiming for around 2.5 litres a day. Make sure to drink this extra water between meals, rather than with them. When we drink too much liquid with meals it can slow down digestion.
2. Drink less caffeine
Cut back on coffee, even if you feel tired! Your liver has to eliminate the coffee, as it is a diuretic, which makes your body lose water. Instead, drink green or Matcha tea, as they contain less caffeine. They are also full of antioxidants which are great for your overall health.
Herbal teas are another drink to try. They both hydrate you and help your liver and kidneys remove waste from the body. Fennel, aniseed and nettle are especially detoxifying, whilst peppermint will help ease any stomach problems. Hot drinks are better than cold as they help to ‘melt the fat’ in the liver. Start the day and ‘alkalinise’ your body with hot water, lemon and a touch of bicarb of soda – a great liver cleanser. Apple cider vinegar is another great ‘alkaline balancer’.
3. Nap during your lunch break
The key to a great night’s sleep is consistency in terms of amount (around 7 ½ hours ideal) and time (the same bed and wake times 7 days a week) of sleep. Clearly, this is not possible during the party season. Adding a nap, or power nap is a great way to ensure you survive the Christmas party season.
Napping is the body’s natural way of catching up on lost sleep. A 20-30 minute nap is the perfect pick-up. A full 90-minute sleep cycle would be amazing as it gives you deep sleep too. Avoid 60-minute naps however. If you wake up after this period of time you are coming out of deep sleep and will feel groggy and un-refreshed. The ‘Siesta period’ between 1pm and 3pm is the natural period to nap in.
Thus , for those with an hour lunch break, the 20 minute ‘power-naps’ comes into its own. You can use these either on the day of, or the day after a party or late night. This helps to top up your lost sleep, wiping out what is known as a sleep debt. The best solution is to stop this ‘debt’ accumulating throughout the week. Your body needs sleep is to help it recover. The more sleep you lose, the harder it is to deal with alcohol. This is because your liver is less efficient at dealing with alcohol when it has less time to rest and recover. The less sleep you have the worse your tolerance becomes.
Another major benefit of keeping your sleep up is that it reduces cravings. Sleep deprivation sends a signal to your body that you are in a state of famine, and stimulates the release of a peptide called ghrelin, an appetite stimulant that increases food cravings.
4. Eat Protein at parties
Party food such as cakes and puddings are carbohydrate-dense. They are easily digested, and can create sugar imbalances in your circulation as they quickly get into the bloodstream as glucose. This sugar high is followed by a sugar low, which results in cravings. So you then eat more sugar and carbs. The way to counter this is to eat protein. Protein is harder and slower to digest. It balances out the party food. Try eating smoked salmon, or other fish and vegetables in the form of crudities.
5. Always eat a healthy lunch
Eating a balanced lunch containing some healthy fat and protein on the day of the party will slow down your alcohol absorption. Oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel (and avocado) are great sources. Fish also contains Omega 3 fatty acids that are great nutrients for your brain.
You could try eating high protein foods such as salmon, chicken, and avocado, with denser foods such as pasta for lunch before a party. This helps to ensure your body absorbs alcohol much more slowly, thereby raising your tolerance.
6. Support your liver
Try to increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables (those with a bitter taste). These include broccoli, kale, cabbage, sprouts, and cauliflower. All of these stimulate your natural detoxification processes and boost liver functioning. Carrots and celery are good too but cut down on high fructose sweet fruits. Probiotics are important in feeding the gut’s friendly bacteria. Miso is good and Kefir is great too.
If you are feeling the pace, bitter herbs such as neem, and the spice turmeric are good aids for the liver as they even out the flow of toxins through the liver. Green algae packed with spirulina and chlorella aid detoxification, Aloe Vera juice is a potent cleanser and rejuvenator, whilst milk thistle is a well- known liver tonic.
7. Eat protein at breakfast
A lot of us will start the morning after a party suffering from cravings. The key here is to eat some protein-based foods such as scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. These take longer to digest and curb your appetite. Egg is especially good as it contains the amino acid cysteine that helps to break down Acetaldehyde, the thing that causes your hangover.
8. Dry Brush to keep your lymph pumping and detoxing
Dry brushing your skin before you shower or wash is known to stimulate lymph nodes around your body. This helps to remove toxins from your body whilst giving your skin a healthy glow. Keep this going every morning and every night.
9. Exercise as much as you can
Exercise through out the party season too. Sweating is great for removing toxins. Exercise also increases flow in your lymph system, revitalises your body, and improves your quality of sleep. The endorphins released through exercise are also great for lifting your mood and beating the stress of Christmas.
10. Top up your electrolytes
Coconut water is a great drink to top up your electrolytes which get depleted during the party season. Eating bananas for breakfast, as the potassium also balances the electrolyte stores.