Supporting your health through Christmas, Fran Vuolo shares insights.
Christmas is a magical time of year. The collective slow down, relaxing, and festive cheer is particularly needed as 2020 draws to a close! We are all looking forward to some escapism.
We spend time with friends and family, enjoy the little things and take time to rest. A central point is all the Christmas foods and drinks! This will vary our normal eating and drinking routines but is completely normal. Rule number one is do not stress! You are 100% allowed to relax and enjoy yourself over Christmas … you can eat, drink and be merry and still support your health. A few simple tips …
- Give yourself permission to eat all foods. Remove the hierarchy around food, get rid of the guilt and say no to restrictive fad diets.
- Get adequate sleep. At least 7-9 hours a night. A night-time routine can help you wind down.
- Christmas foods can be nutrient rich! Vitamin c, magnesium, iron and folic acid from the fruits and vegetables, fibre from nuts and dried fruits, omega 3 fats in the fish, and b vitamins in the turkey. Aim to get a variety of those Christmas flavours in your cooking.
- Monitor your alcohol intake. 14 units a week max, is the guide for all adults. Choose smaller glasses, low-sugar mixers and some alcohol free drinks. Keep hydrated with water.
- Eat mindfully. Take your time, no distractions and appreciate the flavours and tastes of your food.
- Prioritise balanced and varied meals throughout the day, starting with a good breakfast.
- Aim for 5-a-day; Brussel sprouts, carrots parsnips, swede, leeks, kale, satsumas, pears, and potatoes with the skin left on, all count! As does tinned, fresh and frozen fruit and veg.
- Go for a post-Christmas dinner walk! You get some fresh air, support digestion and stretch your legs.
To summarise, it’s only a few days each year, a time for enjoyment and cheer. If you are anxious about this period, please reach out to a trusted friend, family member or health professional. Christmas can be difficult for many, even more so after this year, and it’s important to check in with yourself, and others.
Managing mental health over Christmas.
This year has been incredibly tough. The Christmas period provides mixed experiences for all; and this time of year can add extra pressure. It can bring feelings of isolation, loneliness, plus financial stresses, and a change of routine. It can exacerbate mental illness
Mental health is a state of wellbeing, defined by how you think, feel and act. It ranges on a spectrum and can vary every day. If you need support, remember you’re not alone, and there are plenty of things that can be done to support you and keep you safe.
- Acknowledge all your thoughts and feelings. You do not have to act on them, just let them come and go, good and bad. Let the negative thoughts drift away. Remember to breathe.
- Remember you are loved and cherished. Reach out to friends and family or ask them to check in on you every so often.
- Eat a varied and balanced diet and stay hydrated. Limit alcohol intake where possible.
- Set clear boundaries with loved ones.
- Practice some self-care; stick to a sleeping routine, wash regularly, exercise, and make sure to eat and drink. Take a break when you need too.
Make Christmas work for you. Set your own routine and prioritise what you want to do. You know yourself best, so use your energy to look after yourself.
Stay safe and be kind to yourself.
Francesca Vuolo is an associate registered nutritionist, with a BSc Hons Nutrition. Nutrition science is an exciting passion in which she is expanding her knowledge. Currently Fran is studying an MSc in Nutrition and Behaviour. She provides evidence based nutrition information, food inspiration and more on her Instagram @flourishwithfran.