The pre-Christmas party season can wear out even the hardiest of constitutions but these quick energy-boosting tips will leave you feeling as good as new, says Samantha Wong
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Healthy eating is often the first thing to suffer when you’re par tying, so try to at least aim for three energy-rich meals and two snacks a day. Hungover or not, start as you mean to go on: A good breakfast makes you less likely to snack on all those sugary Christmas treats later in the day. Try a ‘grill-up’ rather than a fry-up; two poached eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes provide the perfect sustained energy pick-me-up.
A heavy supper with buckets of wine is likely on the agenda come evening, so keep lunch light but energising by pairing complex carbohydrates with protein and a little bit of healthy fat. Top wholegrain bread with a few slices of healthy fat in the form of avocado. Pile on tomatoes, bean sprouts and spinach – all packed with vitamins and minerals – and use canned tuna or shredded chicken breast for protein.
Another easy lunch option is a salad with lots of vegetables, beans for protein and a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar dressing. For a quick energy boost throughout the day, fresh fruit and vegetable juices are your go-to. Juices that combine fruit, milk and pine nuts actually tell the brain you’re full – plus they keep energy levels topped up for longer. Whizz up orange, apple and chocolate with milk thistle extract for a truly beneficial Christmas treat. Whatever you do avoid diet sodas, as these speed-up the stomach-emptying process so you end up eating more canapés.
When you need a snack, almonds are a great choice. Research shows that a handful a day helps you reduce your daily calorie intake by stopping ‘bad’ snacking. Stick to those with the skin on as they help to inhibit fat absorption.
LAST WORD ON BLOATING
There’s no simple answer as to why we bloat, as there’s such a wide range of possibilities. Usually, it’s down to air getting trapped in our digestive system, from either talking too much while eating or unconsciously gulping when stressed. Fizzy drinks can cause fast bloating – and all is made worse byeating high-fat foods that take longer to digest, keeping trapped air around for longer. No surprise, as we guzzle sparkling wine and eat rich food, bloating can be a real issue in the lead-up to Christmas.
To stop or at least reduce bloating, eat slowly, talk less and don’t chew gum. Lactose (in milk) and soya are notorious for those susceptible, and bloating is often worse during PMT. Giving up fizzy drinks and sparkling mineral water helps, as does avoiding sugar-free sweeteners that contain sugar alternatives. A salt-rich diet makes our bodies hold on to excess fluid, so cut the salt. Avoid pulses, sprouts and cabbage which tend to cause bloating within an hour.
There’s no de-bloating magic bullet but drinking peppermint tea between meals definitely helps, as does taking a daily probiotic. De-stressing is also important, as is stomach massage, as both help shift trapped gas. If you need to de-bloat fast, try this Hollywood pre-red carpet diet for 36 hours before a big night; it’s only a short-term measure. Stick to protein, salad and soft vegetables and cut out carbs, caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Also, forgo salt – this alone can mean the difference of 1 to 1.5 kilograms over four to five days.