A nutritionist’s Guide to Surviving Party Season

16 Dec 2019

December festivities are all about end of year parties and social catch ups. Food, alcohol, busy social schedules and late nights are all part of the fun but can have a huge impact on our health. It’s so easy to over-consume kilojoules (so many chocolates) and under-consume nutrients (a mince pie is not a serve of fruit). We think it’s just a few parties but the reality often sees exercise time replaced with festive preparations and a usually healthy fridge is now bursting with wine and cheese. It’s no wonder everyone wants to ‘lose weight’ and ‘detox’ in the new year.

But weight gain, feeling sluggish, and struggling to get out of bed in the morning don’t have to be your reality this festive season! These simple tips will have you feeling great this holiday, without missing out on all the fun.

Alcohol:

There’s only one way to totally avoid a hangover – don’t drink. But you can certainly improve how you feel after a night out with a few small strategies:

- Make your first drink at a party something non-alcoholic. If offered a drink on arrival, take a raincheck and say you’re really thirsty and need some water first.

-Hydrate well during the day before you drink any alcohol

-Alternate alcoholic drinks with something non-alcoholic (try a mocktail or a sparkling water).

-After a big night, avoid the typical fatty hangover breakfast as it will just make more work for your liver. Go for a vitamin C-packed breakfast of berries and oats or muesli, which are a good source of B vitamins. For the same reasons, go easy on caffeine the next day too. Instead, go for herbal tea, especially rooibos which is rich in antioxidants.

-Schedule in love-your-liver days a few times a week throughout the silly season (add them to your calendar) to give the booze a miss.

 

Exercise:

Make time for exercise, even on your holidays. Getting your heart rate up helps the lymphatic system (which fights infection), boosts your immune system and speeds up your metabolic rate (burning more calories).

Exercise also stimulates your digestive system, and gets feel-good endorphins going – perfect for helping with festive overindulgences.

You don’t have to be hitting the gym on your holidays, get outdoors for bushwalks, beach swims or a social game of cricket at the park.


Nutrition:

If you’re bringing a plate to lunch or hosting a party, make healthy choices easier for everyone by providing some lighter party food. Cut up vegetables and dip, big salads, a fresh fruit platter or lean meat and vegetable kebabs are all tasty crowd pleasers.

When reaching for food these holidays, try to take a moment to be aware of what you’re eating. Before you reach for another mince pie or take a chocolate being offered, ask yourself:

-Am I hungry?

-Do I want to eat this?

-Do I even like this food?

At home, prep yourself a few days’ worth of healthy breakfasts (like overnight oats or smoothie mixes) and fruit and vegetable-based snacks to keep in the fridge. Being organised is the key to making healthy choices when there seems to be so many treat foods around.

Last but not least don’t forget to stop and enjoy time with your loved ones.

See you in the New Year.

Sarah Moore (RNutr, MPH).