Christmas parties are a great way of raising your spirits in the darkest month of the year, but they can take their toll on your body. With the accumulated loss of sleep, hangovers, and rich food you may feel wiped out even before getting to Christmas. Here are some tips to help you to thrive rather than survive the Christmas party season…
1. Detoxify the alcohol as you go and stay hydrated
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, as too much liquid with meals can slow down digestion. At parties, alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water and staying on one type of alcoholic drink throughout the night.
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 and are full of antioxidants. Herbal teas are can 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. Napping to balance your sleep debt
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 will go out of the window in the party season. Here is where ‘power-naps’ come into their own. Napping on the day of and day after a party can help wipe out any sleep debt, and stop it accumulating throughout the week – so topping up sleep straight away is the key to making sure you thrive for the next party. Quite simply, your body requires sleep to recover and the more sleep you lose the harder you will find it to deal with alcohol, leaving you with an increasingly low tolerance. This is because your liver is less efficient at dealing with alcohol when it has less time to rest and recover.
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, but avoid 60-minutes because 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.
The other 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.
Carbohydrate-dense party food, especially sweet cakes, and puddings have a tendency to create sugar imbalances in your bloodstream as they quickly get into the bloodstream as glucose. This sugar high is followed by a sugar low, which results in you having cravings. To counter this, try to increase your amount of protein, such as smoked salmon, to balance out your party food, and eat crudities to get in your vegetables.
A balanced lunch containing some healthy fat 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 mind.
Also up your intake of cruciferous vegetables (those with a bitter taste), which include broccoli, kale, cabbage, sprouts, and cauliflower as they 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.
The morning after, eat some protein-based foods such as scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, which take longer to digest to 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. Eating high protein foods such as salmon, chicken, and avocado, with denser foods such as pasta, the day before, can help ensure your body absorbs alcohol much more slowly, thereby raising your tolerance. Other tips include eating bananas as the potassium balances the electrolyte stores.
5. Keep your lymph pumping and detoxing
Dry brushing your skin before you shower or wash is known to stimulate lymph nodes around your body, helping you remove toxins from your body whilst giving your skin a healthy glow. Keep this going every morning and every night and keep exercising too, as your sweat helps remove toxins. Exercise also increases flow in your lymph system, revitalises your body, and improves your quality of sleep.
For more sleep tips read my previous article here.