How to reduce Inflammation at Christmas
A big part of the holiday season is celebrating with delicious foods and drinks at work-do’s, social events, family get-togethers and Christmas Day. Often at this time of year the things we consume tend to be less nutritious and easy to overindulge in, which are to be well enjoyed on occasion but when it spans over multiple weeks can lead to our bodies feeling not so great.
One of the things that can happen is an increase in low grade inflammation. This could show up as sore joints, feeling tired, lethargic or foggy, skin and gut issues, headaches or more. Let’s dive into three key contributors to holiday season inflammation and some tips for reducing their effect.
Sugar tends to be a prime culprit around Christmas time that gets us feeling like we are ‘off track’ with our nutrition goals. So how do we enjoy having some treats while still looking after our bodies? The key is moderation and removing the guilty feelings.
- Incorporate foods high in fat, protein or fibre when consuming sweet items. This reduces how quickly sugar is released into the bloodstream and slows the release of insulin.
- While foods with labels like ‘fat free’ or ‘reduced fat’ sound healthier, these foods generally have extra sugar added to improve the flavour that is lost when fat is removed. Choosing products that don’t have ‘less fat’ are generally a better way to go.
- Summer fruits, dark chocolate and homemade vegan ice cream are some great sweet options!
Alcohol can be a big part of celebrations and social events. However, as well as the sugar and calorie content, when over consumed alcohol adds to the toxic burden on our liver and increases inflammation levels. Just like sugar, the key is moderation. And if you find it hard to maintain a healthy consumption of alcohol around this time of year, it can be helpful to pre-plan alternative drinks that you enjoy.
- White spirits like gin, tequila and vodka are more easily metabolised by the liver and don’t have the sugar/calorie content that beer and wine do (although this changes if you are adding high sugar mixers)
- Opt for mocktails with soda water, fruit and juice
- Alternate between an alcoholic drink and a sparkling water with lemon and fresh ginger or pink grapefruit
- Make herbal or fruit teas to keep chilled in the fridge for hot days
Stress is one of the big contributors to low grade inflammation which tends to amp up during the holiday season with extra financial burdens, work busyness and social get-togethers with strained family members. The stress of these things often leaving us feeling physically and mentally exhausted.
- Exercise and movement are a great way to burn off stress hormones and get the endorphins going. Taking a walk in a park or along a beach by yourself or with others is a great way to work off some calories too.
- Breathing exercises often feel like the last thing we want to do when we are already feeling stressed, but they are incredibly helpful! Our vagus nerve, the ‘relaxation’ nerve, is activated by deep breathing.
Below we also have the link to Dr Tracy’s blog on stress management which has other excellent tips!
Optimising your diet and lifestyle is key to keeping inflammation down, especially if you already have any illness or aliments. We hope these tips are helpful for you to prioritise your health and energy to enjoy the Christmas break with your loved ones!
Jess- Dr Wellness Nutritionist