Not only are we well into winter with temperatures dropping and our family, friends and colleagues all coughing and sneezing around us, but now we are all getting even busier than usual with Christmas shopping to do and various festive gatherings to attend. Stress levels tend to go up during this period, healthy eating and exercise can get neglected as we over-indulge, and our health can start to suffer as our liver and digestion takes a battering.
So how do we stay healthy and strong at this time of year whilst still enjoying ourselves?
In this post I have put together 10 simple and easy to follow tips to help keep you in tip top health over the festive period:
1) Eat a good breakfast - According to Chinese Medicine you qi (Chi =energy) flows through your body in a circuit being strongest in a different organ system/ part of the body at different times of the day. The organs of digestion are considered to be most energised and thus strongest between the hours of 7am and 9am - there is a reason people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your breakfast should contain plenty of protein and good fats whether you eat animal products or not in order to help maintain stable blood sugar throughout the day. Mushrooms are a great source of B vitamins essential for good energy and if you have over indulged the night before try a smoothie made with spinach, (high in folate for cellular repair), and potassium rich kiwi or banana to help replace electrolytes lost through the diuretic effects of alcohol.
2) Exercise in the morning- If you are used to working out after work try switching your exercise routine to the morning so you don't end up neglecting your body whilst you are busy partying. In Chinese medicine we say that the Liver likes to move and so if you didn't have time to exercise in the morning be sure to get up and dance at the Christmas Party to help your body cope with any unhealthy foods or drinks you might be consuming. Exercise is also known to aid digestion and so after you have enjoyed your Christmas Lunch I always recommend going for a 20-30min walk to help your body deal with all the delicious food you have just eaten.
3) Eat Mindfully - It can be very tempting to mindlessly graze at a Christmas buffet and before you know it you have overeaten. I recommend that before you dig in you have a good look at the buffet or dinner being offered and make sure to pick foods high in protein as well as lots of vegetables to fill you up. Also avoid hanging around by the buffet so you are not tempted to keep picking up food when you are already full. If you are going to a party where there is going to be a buffet try having some healthy food and snacks before you go so that you are
sated, and therefore, not tempted to overeat when you are there.
4) Avoid fried and greasy foods - According to Chinese Medicine these foods overwhelm the organs of digestion and can make you feel sluggish and bloated. I would recommend therefore, that you keep this in mind when attending festive functions and instead pick foods that are not fried or greasy, such as, lean protein and vegetables for example, carrots to dip in humus rather than a piece of fried meat.
5) Keep hydrated - alternate an alcoholic drink with some water as this will help counter the diuretic effects of alcohol. Lemon water is particularly beneficial to the liver (drunk through a reusable straw to protect the teeth) as it helps to cleanse the liver and the sour taste is associated with the Liver in Chinese Medicine. If you have overindulged the night before some hot water and lemon will help your Liver recover. Dark green, (the colour associated with the Liver in Chinese Medicine), vegetable juice can also help cleanse and support the Liver when you have overindulged.
6) Magnesium - Magnesium baths can be a great way to help detoxify the body and heal aching muscles after too much dancing. If you can't get organic magnesium bath flakes or you do not have a bath try taking a high quality organic magnesium supplement instead.
7) Oil of Oregano - A natural antiviral and antibiotic this can help fend off colds and flu bugs at this time of year. If you find that your immune system is a bit low I also recommend booking in for a Herb consultation as Chinese Medicine is all about prevention, as well as treating disease, and Chinese Herbs are excellent at eliminating colds and flu, as well as strengthening the immune system.
8) Reishi Mushrooms - are great at reducing inflammation in the body excellent after any overindulgence. They also support the liver's detoxifying functions and have been shown to decrease cognitive decline so adding some to your cooking or supplement routine can be very beneficial especially at this time of year.
9) Sleep - It is important that you have a good sleep routine. The Liver in Chinese Medicine is responsible for the smooth flow of qi (Chi- energy) and blood around the body, as well as being one of the body's main detoxifying organs. The Liver likes routine, and so, keeping to the same waking and bedtime hours will help keep your Liver qi flowing smoothly throughout your body and prevent problems with detoxification.
10) Don't stress - Meditation is something I recommend to all my patients as it is such a great stress reliever. Stress levels tend to go up at this time of year with frantic Christmas shopping, travelling to relatives, and we all have that one relative that just knows how to push our buttons :) Meditation then can help you to de-stress and deal with such situations more calmly. The easiest way to meditate if this is new to you or something you find difficult is to listen to a guided meditation, (there are many free ones online). I also offer one to one meditation sessions for anyone wanting to learn more and find a way to integrate this into their daily routine, (also a great Christmas gift).
Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Reiki and Meditation can also all help you stay healthy this winter and if you book in before 22nd December 2017 you will get £10 off your appointment fee - please quote 'Christmas10' at booking - Book Now 0207 724 4004.
Laura Jones is an expert in Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Beauty and Holisitic Therapies with nearly 20 years experience.