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A Happy and Healthy Christmas!

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Christmas is a beautiful time of year! I love celebrating the festive season with family and friends, enjoying the Christmas songs, the cold weather and the feasts with the warmth of candlelight, fires and fairylights. It is a time of rest and celebrating as the year comes to an end. It is a time to remember that good health is a gift and that we have many other things to be grateful for. The greatest gift is the peace, joy and hope of Christmas where we remember Jesus Christ’s birth.

I love Christina Rosetti’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ because it is a lovely reminder of what we can give to God and to each other at Christmas. (You can read the whole poem here or listen to the poem set to music by Holst here). The poem starts with a description of the ‘bleak mid-winter’ where ‘snow had fallen, snow on snow’, and ends with this beautiful verse:

What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb,

If I were a Wise Man

I would do my part,—

Yet what I can I give Him,

Give my heart.

Christmas is also a challenging time of year. It can be incredibly hectic, there can be family tensions and one of the first things to slip is our healthy habits that keep us feeling fit and energised. Here I have 12 pieces of advice to keep healthy and focussed this Christmas…one piece of advice for each of the 12 days of Christmas!

  1. Remember to listen to your body! I know when I eat too much food with dairy, gluten and sugar I end up feeling bloated and tired for a couple of days with more headaches and fatigue. I have learnt to listen to my body and I only eat what I know will make me feel good. I hear similar stories from some of my clients who have symptoms such as stiffness, joint pain, constipation or depression which get much worse over Christmas and New Year.
  2. This doesn’t mean you have to suffer this Christmas. Make sure you enjoy what you eat as well and don’t feel you have to say no to everything! Set a realistic goal like an 80:20 rule so that you eat healthily the majority of the time with space for eating whatever you want!
  3. Offer to cook! That way you know what is in the food and you can make healthy substitutions. Think of adding sweet potatoes in with the roast potatoes, or dressing up brussel sprouts with cranberry sauce and pancetta (Brussel sprouts are a great source of fibre and vitamins C and K). Most importantly, make sure you are eating real, whole food and try to have protein with every meal.
  4. Eat healthy snacks to curb your appetite when you go out. There’s nothing worse than going to a party on an empty stomach and eating lots of unhealthy party food. Try to snack before-hand on proteins and fats like nuts or celery with nut butter. This will help curb your craving for suger and processed carbs as well!
  5. Also think about including liver supporting foods and herbs like garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables (Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli), dandelion root, artichoke leaf, burdock root, milk thistle and extra B vitamins.
  6. Supportive supplements like milk thistle, especially after having alcohol, or glutathione (NAC), a great antioxidant. Consuming adequate NAC replenishes glutathione and can help with chronic respiratory conditions, fertility and brain health. You can get this by eating lots of broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus.
  7. Drink plenty of water! This will encourage you not to over eat and will also improve how you feel the next day. Especially if you are drinking alcohol…and remember not to drink alcohol on an empty stomach or too late at night as it can really disrupt sleep.
  8. Get your blood pumping! Don’t forget to exercise and get your blood flowing this Christmas. You can go for a winter walk or pick up some weights or do some Pilates stretches. Research suggests that the best way to get the blood pumping is a short burst of high-intensity exercise. Eight minutes of high-intensity training is enough to increase your metabolism and improve your cardiovascular health.
  9. Prioritize sleep, relaxation and stress management. Make time in your day to re-focus and keep grounded. We are all different, but remember what charges your batteries and make time for that!
  10.  Brush your teeth! I thought you might appreciate one quirky fact this Christmas. Did you know that brushing your teeth more regularly could prolong your life? A large retrospective study of 161,286 people in South Korea linked good oral hygiene with reduced risk of heart failure and another study linked good oral hygiene with reduced risk of pneumonia. They recommend brushing your teeth three times a day…something to think about in the new year?
  11. Sing Christmas carols! Did you know singing has many physiological benefits? Making music exercises the brain and the body, but singing particularly improves breathing, posture and muscle tension. It is also a great way to focus our attention on the real meaning of Christmas.
  12. Be grateful! Gratitude focusses our attention on the many blessings we have and on the people around us. Putting the focus on others allows us to see them with God’s perspective and brings us close to him as we know and share the joy of Christmas!

I think that is a good start to keep us on track for a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year! Look out for my next blog which has some of my latest research and advice on beating the winter blues, with a special focus on stimulating the vagus nerve (with interesting new research on a new focus on overall health!)

I hope you have a very happy and healthy Christmas!

With every blessing,

Emma

 

Emma Maitland-Carew – Registered Nutritional Therapist

Dip.ION, mBANT, CHNC Registered Practitioner,

Metabolic Balance® Coach, HeartMath Coach.

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