Even before the Christmas period falls upon us, we are already recovering from the holiday aftermath of Thanksgiving. Greed has once again, gotten the better of us and some of us are paying the price in the form of fatigue, sluggishness and weight gain. So what on earth are we supposed to do when we haven’t yet reached the ‘Mother’ of all holidays, Christmas? Well, I don’t know about you, but barely a week into December and I’m feeling lethargic, heavier and generally not at my peak. In anticipation of the Christmas season, I have decided to eat sensibly to prevent any needless weight gain even before the Christmas and New Year is upon us.
Don’t panic. I’m not suggesting we should diet… Let’s leave diets and detoxing for the New Year, where they belong. Although I know I’m not alone when I say that December is one of the busiest months of the year, both work-wise as well as socially. We all seem to be running around doing errands, buying gifts, attending work-related holiday parties as well as parties with friend and family. Personally, I need a little help keeping my energy levels at their peak and ensuring that my immune system is fighting fit and working overtime to protect me from winter’s inevitable chill.
“Prevention is better than cure”… A famous quote rumoured to come from “Hygieia” the Greek Goddess of health… But with so many vitamins, minerals and supplements being peddled to us, nobody could blame us for not having any idea which of these we should take and which we should avoid! The area I tend to need the most help with is my ongoing battle with fighting cold and flu symptoms. I’ve always had a weak immune system and am known to be prone to getting cold and flu symptoms and so at this time of year I’m always looking for ways to boost my immune system. Viral germs can most often be circulated in the work place and on public transport, but most commonly in crowded areas and anywhere with air-conditioning (which is basically re-circulated air and therefore a generator of germs and viruses) Enter ‘Airborne’… my hero.
A complete formula of all-natural vitamins and minerals, designed to keep viral symptoms at bay. These wonderful little tablets dissolve quickly in water and are just perfect for our busy lifestyles… And at $8 (or £10 in UK) a pop, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind!
But vitamin-induced immunity aside, there are always other areas that need to be tackled (Energy levels being top of my list!) So in my quest for answers, I turn to the one thing I know a little something about… food. What could we be eating that would not only pump us full of energy, but also full of vitamins and essentials oils to keep our bodies in tip-top shape for this potentially stressful Christmas period? The usual answers that spring to mind are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, ideally 5 portions a day. Yes, that’s great, fruit and vegetable are good for you. We know that. But did you know that oranges are not actually as high in vitamin C (or Ascorbic acid) as we are all led to believe? There are many fruits that contain a much higher level of vitamin C than the humble orange. The wonderfully exotic papaya fruit contains the highest volume of vitamin C of any single fruit, along with kiwi fruit, blackberries and most other berries also.
Fruit not your thing? Well did you know that watercress, kale and brussel sprouts are also extremely rich in vitamin C also? Just one daily serving of one of these vitamin C rich foods can help boost your immunity no end, which have a big impact on your energy levels. But if you are you are planning on cooking your vegetables beyond all recognition, beware that vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and is easily destroyed by heat and therefore easily lost in cooking water, so a light steam is best to retain not only its vitamin content but its flavour as well. Our bodies increase their requirements for vitamin C due to different factors such as alcohol, menstruation, surgery, injury, stress, diabetes and smoking - with a staggering 25mg of vitamin C being destroyed by each cigarette smoked! So if you haven’t given up yet, the New Year is the perfect opportunity to stub out your last cigarette!
Food that is good for you doesn’t have to taste like a combination of tissue paper and stale saw dust. You can still eat even the healthiest of produce but add something delicious to really lift its flavour. For example… Not sure about cabbage or kale? Why not fry some diced bacon or pancetta and mix it into some stir-fried cabbage adding a little knob of butter at the end... It’s delicious. Switch white rice to brown for a while and you can still have your favourite stew or curry on top. That small change will make so much difference to your body and it’s not the biggest sacrifice in the world, is it? Small changes, when implemented consistently, can make drastic improvements to our overall well-being.
If its energy you are looking for, then switch to ‘Low GI’ (Glycemic Index) foods, which are carbohydrate-based foods that release their glucose content more slowly and steadily which is not only beneficial because it sustains your energy levels and keeps you feeling fuller for longer, but they also help keep your weight down too! Double whammy!
‘Low GI’ content can be found in foods like sweet potatoes, oats, nuts and seeds, brown/wholegrain bread, brown rice, olives, avocadoes and much more. So instead of eating white bread, try Soya & Linseed or Multi-grain bread instead. Switch white potatoes for sweet potatoes and to make them a family favourite, cut them into wedges, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 30 minutes on 200C (400F). They go great with burgers, chicken and most meat and fish, and they’re not only good for you but they taste fantastic too! For more information on foods in the ‘High / Medium & Low Glycemic Index table’ click on this link: //www.montignac.com/en/ig_tableau.php The results will shock you as not all fruit and vegetable GI contents are as straight forward as you would think!
So I guess what I’m saying is that if we know we are about to eat, drink and be merry and gain several extra pounds through consumption of excessive food and alcohol over the next few weeks, shouldn’t we take care of our bodies BEFOREHAND? Instead of facing high-level damage AFTER the holidays are over! Christmas is a time for having fun and enjoying yourself, but sometimes our bodies are not designed for the overload that is coming their way and instead of spending a lot of money on bottled vitamins and supplements, there are other ways we can be improving our health.
So, with about 2 weeks left until Christmas, why not give a few of my tips a try so that when the food-fest rolls around, you and your body are best-equipped to deal with the overload. But don’t forget to keep the Alka Seltzer and Pepto Bismol to hand… Because sadly there is no known cure for over-eating! Here’s to your health, cheers!
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