While Christmas is about family and giving and being grateful, for a lot of us, Christmas Day itself is either filled with stress (putting on a huge dinner for loved ones, travelling all over the place to see everyone in a day, making sure the kids still believe in Santa Claus) or a day of absolute over-indulgence. I know I’m not alone in justifying Christmas as a day to fill my plate in gravy, induce a food coma or have a few extra beers and chocolates because “Christmas comes but once a year” – seriously, gravy is the bomb-diggety! – so I want to give you some tips to lessen the impact of this day of indulgence, allowing you to enjoy the day with your families and friends without feeling gross. My tips are realistic and simple, and wont alienate you as the weird person drinking a green smoothie while everyone else is digging into the roast (after all, it is Christmas, and if I could swim in gravy, I probably would).
Drink Lots of Water
As soon as you wake up, grab a drink bottle and immediately up to a litre of water. Especially if you plan on drinking on Christmas Day, you’re likely to forget to drink water, so at the very least, get a big whack of water into you first thing. Aim for 2L throughout the day (which shouldn’t be hard if you get that 1L in first thing in the morning).
Between other drinks, have a glass of water to help your liver process the sugar and alcohol you’re consuming, this will also prevent the dreaded Boxing Day hangover and help you to remember the day you’ve put aside to spend with your loved ones.
Just don’t drink water with your meals. This waters down your stomach acid, which needs to be potent enough to break down the rich Christmas foods of the day.
Go for a Walk
If you have the time, grab the family (and the dog) and go for a gentle walk before lunch. It doesn’t have to be brisk or go for much longer than 20 minutes, but it can give the kids a chance to try out their presents (bikes, Frisbees, one of those whistly Vortex things, scooters, etc) and gives you a chance to get a bit of fresh air, some stress relief and get your body gently moving for the day.
Serve Yourself Right
Like I said above, most of us over-indulge on Christmas Day, but you can still choose to eat more on the healthy side and still feel like you’re indulging – it doesn’t even take that much effort
Fill half your plate with vegetables/salad, and the rest with meat, potatoes, bread. This is how your plate should be served on any day, but if you visually have half vegetables (then actually eat those), you’re less likely to have a belly ache.
Minimise your sugar intake to just one treat. This might be some chocolates, some gingerbread men, or dessert. Whatever it is, choose your favourite, enjoy it, then avoid other sweet stuff for the day. This will help to avoid energy crashes and again, reduce the likelihood of a belly ache.
Hit the Fruit Platter
If you did over-indulge, here is where you can use Food As Medicine to give you some relief; pineapple and paw paw. These beautiful fruits have digestive enzymes, bromelain and papain, to help that belly full of food break down. As strong as your stomach acid is, it can only do so much, especially if you over-load it. Make sure it’s fresh fruit (not tinned) and if choosing pineapple, make sure you eat the core, that’s where most of the bromelain is living.
Take Time to Actually Enjoy Your Christmas Meal
The main point of the Christmas meal is to share it with the people that you love, share stories, laugh and remember how much you love them. Someone (maybe you) has spent a long time planning and preparing the meal for Christmas Day. By scoffing it all down in less than five minutes, are you really respecting and appreciating the time and effort spent providing you with a beautifully indulgent meal?
Be grateful. Enjoy every mouthful. Thank the person who prepared the meal and have a chat to them between mouthfuls. Be mindful of the work and time that was put into growing, harvesting and farming the food you’re about to eat, and the time and effort to cook something that makes your mouth water every time. You don’t have anywhere else to be right now, so be present with the people you love and chew your food, mindfully.
Chewing your food is incredibly important to the digestive process. Not only does chewing let you thoroughly enjoy your food by surrounding your tastebuds with flavour, but savouring each mouthful stimulates digestive enzymes all the way along your digestive system which help to break down food and absorb nutrients. Chewing itself helps break down the food into smaller parts that are easier for your stomach acid to tackle too.
If it really is a struggle to get you to chew your food (aim for at least 20 chews), put your knife and fork down after every mouthful. You’ll be surprised how much more you enjoy your meal if you take the time to truly appreciate it, and you probably wont feel as fat and full-to-bursting afterwards.
My tips don’t seem too crazy do they?
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones. I myself will be having an orphan Christmas by the pool with a couple of friends, which will be very nice.
Merry Christmas beautiful people!