December tweaks to beat the January blues...
The fabulous lights were switched on in Dunbar last weekend, shops started their marketing campaigns weeks ago and there’s simply no avoiding the ‘C’ word. After experiencing 13 years of summer Christmases in Sydney, I now totally appreciate the lights and prospect of a big feast that get us Northern Hemisphere types through the long, dark winter.
Unfortunately the high of Christmas is often accompanied by a January downer as we feel the effects of what’s often a month of extravagance. Happily, there are a few strategies for the festive period that might help us launch into the new year feeling great.
1. Get some outdoor daylight every day, especially if it’s sunny. Exposure to daylight and nature is linked to improved mood and sleep, and my pet-hate is when you don’t do this, then 4pm arrives along with that twitchy, cabin-fever feeling.
2. Don’t let a bit of indulgence mean that you throw out all of your healthy habits. Just because you had a couple of mince pies with your morning coffee doesn’t mean that it's not worthwhile to eat lovely wholesome food for the rest of the day.
3. Consider a Vitamin D supplement. In Scotland, the angle of the sun means that we barely absorb Vitamin D from the sun between October and mid-March, so government recommendations are that everyone takes supplemental Vitamin D during these months. The type of vitamin D that raises levels in your blood is D3, so do check labels to ensure that this is the type that you are getting (not D2, which is common in fortified foods like dairy-free milks, cereals and some mushrooms).
4. Have a couple of non-alcoholic cocktail recipes up your sleeve. It’s much easier to love your liver by building in alcohol free days and including alcohol free drinks with your celebrations if you have a lovely mocktail in a fancy glass to look forward to. A couple that I like are:
- Thorncroft kombucha cordial (available in the Crunchy Carrot or online), juice of half a lime, topped up with sparkling water.
- Half a glass of fresh orange juice, 2 sprigs of bashed rosemary, pinch of cinnamon, topped up with sparkling water.
5. Embrace the sprouts! As part of the brassica family, brussels sprouts are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, supporting our liver, helping us to digest fatty foods, and supplying fibre, vitamins and minerals. Although I’ve never been a huge fan of boiled sprouts, by cooking them in other ways - roasting, or shredding and stir-frying, I eat loads these days. As well as sprouts, you’ll find loads of great looking Christmas vegetable recipes online.
6. If you have time off, fit one thing just for you into each day. Whether it be half an hour in a coffee shop with a book, a relaxing bath or a catch-up with a friend - treat yourself as well as everyone else.
What do you do to keep your health on the straight and narrow over Christmas? Have you ever gone for the cold-water therapy that is the Looney Dook? I’d love to know.