Christmas for me has always been about family get-togethers, hanging around someones home, wearing Santa hats, giving out gifts and tucking into delicious food and wine. When we were kids, my mother never failed to bake the best Christmas chicken and roast potatoes and we always had Rocky Road, pudding and custard and a trifle. My father may have been a health nut but he had a major sugar addiction and it got fed at Christmas time lol.
But as I have gotten older, and my digestion is just not what it used to be, I started to dread this time of year. Mainly because I found it difficult to resist all the goodies and I would overeat. I would often feel bloated and hungover and tired afterwards.
Can you relate?
But after following the Sugar Buster guidelines (that’s the USANA RESET program) for the past 18 months, the principles I have bedded down into my eating and lifestyle have really helped me enjoy celebratory foods with ease and less stress.
If you are like I used to be, then you may benefit from the tips and tricks I employ to not fear those tables laden with cheer (as my mother used to call them) and enjoy treat foods and the good company of friends and family.
Remember, if you choose to eat something that you intended not to, do not feel bad about it. This is important! Stress is worse for you then bad food, so enjoy your treats when you have them. Drop the guilt. Just don’t get stuck in a cycle of eating them.
Surviving The Sugar Season
1. Eat before going out
If you turn up to a Christmas function starving (or any celebratory function for that matter) you are likely to consume everything on the table and fast! And probably the highest carb foods you can find (read sugar – those crackers you are having with the cheese turn immediately to sugar unless they are made on nuts and seeds). Ghrelin, our appetite hormone produced in the stomach, tells our brain when it is time to eat. There is no ignoring that signal when it has dropped too low and a pile of high sugar foods are staring you in the face. So before you head off to your event, have a protein snack like a handful of nuts with half a piece of fruit, or a couple of eggs or a Nutrimeal shake. Add fibre as this helps with satiety.
2. If you do turn up hungry
So there was no time for a quick protein snack before the party? My advice is to have a large glass of water before eating anything then choose fibre first. Focus on vegetables and salads, with minimal dressing or dip, until a good base of these are in your digestive system. And keep drinking water. Once the fibre and water is in place, then make selections that look to be the most flavourful with the least amount of sugar (this tip comes from the book Mastering Leptin by Byron J. Richards and Mary Guignon Richards). Leptin, a hormone, acts like a fuel gauge in the car. When the tank is full of fuel leptin increases and this signals the brain to tell us to stop eating. Fibre rich foods will help that leptin signal get received by the brain so you are less likely to over eat.
3. Try everything in small portions
Before I hit a buffet table, I have learned to have a little chat to myself. I say “This is not the last meal you are ever likely to eat. You do not need to eat everything on the table” and then I selectively choose what I really want to experience.
If I really do want to sample everything on the table, I take a small tasting of everything and I savour the flavours. I have had to work hard on this one, because I am a very big eater and I love food and I have been known to polish off a whole bowl of potato chips on my own (they are my achilles heel!) Now I have a few and then move them out of my line of sight.
4. Keep up the water
Start your celebrations by drinking a large glass of water. Take a bottle of sparkling mineral water with you to BYO events and a lime to squeeze into it. Actually take 2 bottles as once you bring this out you will find everyone else wants a glass of cold sparking water after a lot of party food and alcohol!
5. Fibre first
Reiterating tip number 2 again. Fibre helps keep you feeling full, feeds your good gut bacteria and it also helps clean toxins from the bowel. Pears and bananas have a high fibre count as do sweet potatoes, greens and salad vegetables. Have a Fibergy shot before you go out. That is a teaspoon of the USANA fibre supplement in a small glass of water. Or use psyllium husk (its not as comprehensive in its forms of fibre but it is available from your local health food store).
6. Support Your Liver
Your liver LOVES greens so choose any dishes that contain asparagus, avocado, rocket, spinach, salad leaves, green beans, broccoli plus beetroot, cauliflower, lemons and limes. Take a liver support supplement. More about the USANA brand in the recovery tip below.
No-one is perfect and this season you may blow your good intentions right out of the water. Don’t despair! If this happens to you, pull out your recovery plan. Here are my top tips:
- Before you go to bed have a big glass of water and pop a couple of Proflavanol C 100 (the grape seed extract and vitamin C wonder supplement. A very potent antioxidant that helps protect your brain cells as well as your heart, lungs and skin) and take 2 x HepaPlus liver support supplements. The green-tea extract, milk thistle extract and broccoli concentrate in this product protects the liver and helps it function more effectively.
- Next morning, drink plenty of water and more to flush those toxins out of your system!
- Try a Green Smoothie (see recipe)
- Go for a brisk walk or at least do some lymphasizing movements. If you don’t have one of those mini-trampolines to jump on, just move your legs and arms up and down in a pump like action to get the lymph working. Deep breathing, with a longer breath out than in, gets the lungs pumping. The lungs are one of our detox pathways, so use your breath to get rid of internal rubbish.
Vicki’s Beginner Green Smoothie
- 2 large handfuls of baby spinach (or cos lettuce or a mixture of both)
- 1 cucumber, peeled if not organic
- 1/2 cup blueberries (or half a green apple)
- 1/2 avocado, peeled and potted
- 1/2 peeled banana
- 1 small lemon (or lime) peeled and seeds removed
- 1/2 cup fresh coriander (stems ok but remove roots)
- 1 cup of filtered water
Method: Wash all produce. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (about 30 seconds). Add more water if needed. You can also stir in a USANA Probiotic stick before drinking to increase your the good bacteria in your gut.
Wishing you a very happy festive season. May you enjoy it without overdoing it.