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How to Eat & Drink Smart This Festive Season

Year-end functions, office parties and the overload of festive events can leave you feeling far from invigorated for the last few weeks of work. And worse, they can be devastating to your summer ‘bikini body’ aspirations. In fact, one or two raucous functions is often the final ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’ when it comes to your December weight loss plan.

So, how do you ensure you are not a party pooper this festive season but at the same time not undo all your hard work during the past year? Here are some tips to help you have a happy and guilt free holiday time.

 Your smart alcohol choices

As you know, alcohol and dieting don’t mix well—your body processes alcohol first, leaving carbohydrates and fats to get stored instead of getting used as fuel, which is why Patrick prescribes it only in moderation. There, are, however, some benefits to certain types of alcoholic drinks that you might have at your end of year functions. One plus for alcohol in moderation is the well-established finding that it increases HDL (good) cholesterol. Red wine, in particular, may have additional benefits as its high in proanthocyanidins, the antioxidants found in grapes and berries. Patrick therefore suggests that a glass or two of red wine at a function is the better choice as it is also lower in calories than spirits. Sparkling wines like Champagne are also a healthier choice because the polyphenols found in red wine can also be found in champagne. These antioxidants reduce the damage free radicals can do to the body, possibly helping lower blood pressure and prevent heart problems. It also has a slightly lower calorie count than wine.

If you don’t like wine or champagne, then clearer spirits like Vodka, Gin and Whiskey are also lower in calories, if you drink it with a tonic, water or soda water as a mixer.  However, from a glycaemic load point of view a pint of beer is 20 GLs and on Patrick Holford’s low GL diet he allow 5 GLs a day for drinks or desserts, which is the equivalent of half a pint of beer every other day or  a glass of wine every day, but no more than that.

Alcohol actually also acts as ‘anti-nutrient’. Although some forms of alcohol (such as stout or red wine) do deliver a few nutrients, alcohol itself is a potent destroyer of these same nutrients. It also affects your nutrient intake by disturbing the digestion and absorption of food, and suppressing appetite. Patrick therefore suggests that if you want to drink, then do so only moderately, sticking to less than a drink a day and choosing organic, sulfite-free wines and champagne when you can, and if you know that you will be consuming a little more this December, make sure you up you intake of supplements, especially B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc.

 Reducing the “after” effects

To reduce the effects of overdoing it, it is important to know where your headache comes from in the first place. The symptoms of excess alcohol are half dehydration and half intoxication. Once the livers ability to detoxify alcohol is exceeded the body produces a toxic substance that gives us a headache.  So, try to eat pure foods during the day that will not add to the body’s toxic burden, by this Patrick means cutting out sugary foods during this time will help your body to cope with more alcohol.  Drink vegetable and fruit juices high in antioxidants and of course, try to drink at least 2 litres of water each day.

 Prepare to stay away from temptations

Often, it is the pre-dinner snacks that really get you – probably because the last time you ate was lunchtime. Some people even skip lunch, which is a mistake because they end up not caring how unhealthy the fried pastry roll is. A good tip is to have some healthy, low GL snacks while you are getting ready for your “do”.  Stock your fridge with easy low GL snacks this December that help you to stay away from the platters of fried foods and pastries. A great example is a few oat cakes with hummus or homemade pesto.

 Do detoxifying exercises every day

Exercise helps the body to get rid of toxins – especially at times of excess. Any whole-body exercise is good for detoxification – brisk walking, jogging, swimming, yoga or Pilates are all great for this.

Luckily for your, Patrick also advises a good massage to detoxify at every level by stimulating the circulation and lymphatic systems as the body stores chemical toxins, physical tension and negative emotions – all by-products of a busy festive season.

 So book yourself a massage in the name of health, drink your water, make smart choices and get a bit of exercise in and be sure of fun, guilt-free and healthy holiday season.