With everyone coughing and spluttering, it’s hard to avoid the dreaded lurgy, particularly when you’re partying hard. So, give both your immune system and energy levels a boost by reaching for the citrus fruits.
Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. Add some oranges, grapefruit or lemons to your daily habits. Broccoli is good, and packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as numerous antioxidants. Add garlic for their immune-boosting properties, a result of a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, including allicin. And swap your typical brew for a green tea, which is packed with antioxidants including flavonoids and epigallocatechin gallate.
According to www.shelter.org.uk, 80,000 children will wake up homeless in Britain this Christmas. Many will spend Christmas morning in an emergency bed and breakfast or hostel, often cramped into one room with their whole family and with limited cooking, laundry and bathroom facilities. Shelter will be providing support throughout Christmas to families all over the country — but they need help. Why not donate the money you’d spend on a night out to someone who really needs it. Or better still, find a festive way to raise money among your work colleagues or friends.
Let’s face it; finding anything half decent for £5 or £10 is a challenge for people you know, let alone people you don’t. So, whether you buying for friends or family, or colleagues – maybe you drew the short straw and got your boss – then listen up. Whatever you do, don’t exceed the amount. No-one will thank you for it, and those who stuck to the limit may even begrudge you for not doing so. Secondly, never buy a random gift. If you don’t know someone, ask somebody who does. It’s no fun getting a bottle of wine if you’re teetotal, for example. If you’re really stuck, vouchers are the least offensive thing you can buy, and useful. If you feel that’s a cop-out, be creative. Pictures in frames or other handmade ideas can work a treat. It’s the thought that counts, right?
The internets has reduced the need to visit the high street, but if you do have to take the plunge, with or without your other half, make it worth your while. Take the stairs, not the lift or escalator, for those extra steps. Carry the bags for your better half, too and add some biceps curls while they’re not looking (i.e. when they’re trying clothes on, or paying). Friend in the changing room? Try a wall sit instead of sitting down. In the queue yourself? Do some cheeky calf raises or butt clenchers. Winning!
Fancy a detox before, during or after Christmas? Blighty has plenty of spas to choose from, but why not try a specific detox centre to boost your health and happiness? Vital Detox (http://www.vitaldetox.com), Somerset, enables you to rest mind and body and help you cleanse and rejuvenate, and all set against stunning countryside. Fancy a change of scenery instead? Head to Lombardy and re-energise at Ti Sana (http://www.1711.it/en/). Here, you can discover the secret of a good night’s sleep in your digital detox suite, and then tailor the rest of your stay depending on whether you want to lose weight, relax or energise. Eat well, benefit from spa treatments and yoga classes and recalibrate your sleeping patterns and stress levels, and with Lake Como on your doorstep. Bliss.
If you plan on releasing your inner Tom Cruise and serving cocktails this Christmas, then consider swapping your mixer for reduced sugars. Rather than lemonade, soda, a sweetened mixer or fruit juice, try sparkling water instead, with some lemon or lime squeezed in. Try this low-sugar margarita recipe from well-being expert Calgary Avansino: wet the rim of your cocktail glass with water and dip it into a plate of salt. Next, combine 1 shot of tequila with 3tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice, 1/4 tsp orange extract, stevia and ice. Shake it all up in a cocktail mixer until combined. Add 2tbsp Highland Spring sparkling water and serve with a slice of lime.
There’s more to Christmas morning than unwrapping pairs of socks. Many people around the nation go for a dip. “I guess people feel more compelled to do it at this time of year because of the festive spirit,” explains Lynne Roper, Outdoor Swimming Society. “It’s a case of stripping off and doing it wherever you happen to be. It’s a recurring Christmas theme.”
When looking for shoes for your Christmas party, make sure you find a heel that fits under the heel bone and not at the back of the foot. That’s the advice of Podiatrist Jake Heath, who says the position of the heel, rather than the style or the thickness, is key. “If the heel of the shoe is too far back on the foot it will make you unbalanced and your feet will hurt,” he says. “No one wants to fall over as they enter the Christmas party.” Wise words, y’all.
Christmas tree needles. Try eating them instead. Yep, you heard. Danish restaurant Noma, considered one of the best in the world, is known to serve freeze-dried pine needles. Even the bark is said to have medicinal uses. Only one way to find out!
Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive. If you can, try and spread the cost. Leaving it until the last minute is not only stressful, it means you have to fork out from one pay cheque. Start grabbing stuff as and when you see it, and spread the cost accordingly. Also, look for cashback deals and voucher codes, where stores enable you to earn or save money every time you shop in store or online. www.topcashback.co.uk is a good place to start. If you can’t find any discounts online, sign up to a store or brand’s newsletter, or better still ask their social media accounts directly. They’re more willing to share than you think!
As you may have read elsewhere in this issue, Christmas can be an anxious and stressful time. Take a small window of your day to meditate, and it won’t be. According to the makers of Headspace, a free app that helps you meditate once every day for just ten minutes, the act of meditation can have a huge positive effect on stress, with 90% of people with clinical levels of anxiety enjoying significant reductions. According to neuroscientists, meditation helps your brain reshape itself and reboots the nervous system. Try it, you’ll be to stressing less and loving more: www.headspace.com.
Swap the following ingredients. Eat and be merry, says Shona Wilkinson, Superfood UK nutritionist.
OUT: CHRISTMAS PUDDING IN: CLEMENTINE SORBET
“Christmas puddings are full of sugar, as they are made with dried fruit. The pudding mixture also calls for sugar to be added. Swapping it for clementine sorbet reduces the sugar intake and the calories.”
OUT: PIGS IN BLANKETS IN: PARMA HAM AND ASPARAGUS
“Pigs in blankets are sausages wrapped in bacon generally fried, making their fat content quite high. The fibre content of the asparagus helps support healthy digestion, which can help avoid the dreading post dinner bloat!”
OUT: MINCE PIES IN: PAVLOVA
One mince pie can have up to 20g of sugar! Adding Irish cream to your mince pies only increases the calories. “A pavlova with fresh fruit and a little bit of cream helps to reduce the levels of sugar.”
We know there’s little point telling you to watch what you drink. We all have the best intentions, but it’s party season and many of us have a prolonged break from work. However, we do have some tips you may thanks us for…
PREVENTION: Those who tell you ‘eating’s cheating’ are insane. However, it’s not always easy to chow down before a sesh, so snack on fat or protein-rich foods, like cheese, nuts, or meat. This will keep the pyloric valve closed longer and slow the alcohol’s progress to your system. Also, try and take on a big glass of water with a multi-vitamin either before you go out or before you hit the hay.
CURE: Back in the day, Europeans would eat eel and bitter almonds to ease their recovery. Now, all you need is to stay hydrated, think coconut water instead of, or as well as, normal water. Ginger tea will also help. Food wise, grab a banana for the potassium and electrolytes, and tuck into some eggs to mop up any leftover toxins.
Exercising outside or burning the candle at both ends can wreak havoc with your skin. Worry not. All you need is fruit and water. “You should drink about 2l of water everyday,” says Lyudmyla Nagirnyak, manager of K Spa, awarded ‘Best Spa in London’ at the Good Spa Guide Awards 2015. “It gives you a radiant, healthier, younger looking complexion by keeping your skin hydrated from the inside. Vitamins also help. Either stock up on citrus fruits such as oranges and kiwi, or apply the miracle vitamin directly to your face.”
Wet? Snowing? Both? Bring your workout indoors. For a fully functioning ‘gym’ at home you need little more than a kettlebell and a suspension trainer, and both are inexpensive. You can even perform some exercises using your garden bench, or other pieces of furniture around the home. Performing exercises in pairs or in a circuit is the most efficient way of completing your workout. It also keeps your heart rate elevated so you’ll get a cardio benefit too. Pick moves that work the largest muscle groups, such as the thighs, back and chest. Better still, try and smash through a high-intensity resistance workout on Christmas Day morning. This will improve your insulin sensitivity and prime your muscles to receive the nutrients you’ll eat during the big lunch. Too hardcore? Follow a yoga instruction video on YouTube. There really is no excuse!
The best way to avoid bulking up over Christmas is to enter an event that will provide the motivation you need to train during the festive period. Fear of failure, or the desire to reach a certain goal, is all you need when temptations take over.
Christmas can be hectic, particularly if you a) have to visit friends and family in a variety of locations or b) have children. However, a simple dietary upgrade could provide more energy. “Eating lean red meat in this busy period can boost iron levels and combat tiredness and fatigue,” explains Dr Emma Derbyshire, Nutritionist at the Meat Advisory Panel.
Stress, long commutes, and office air-conditioning and heating can all increase water loss in the build up to Christmas, even when you don’t feel particularly sweaty. “The brain represents only 2% of the body’s weight, but gets 20% of blood circulation. That means that dehydration affects the brain far earlier than the body, as the brain relies on a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients,” explains Dr Carrie Ruxton, Dietician at Tea Advisory Panel. “Maintain a steady supply of drinks, including tea. It naturally contains small amounts of caffeine and L-theanine, which boosts concentration.”
The TV schedule can be hit and miss over Christmas, so keep an eye out for the festive film classics. Yep, it doesn’t have to be repeats of Only Fools and Horses, y’know.
HERE ARE THE BESTFIT TEAM’S TOP FIVE CHRISTMAS CRACKERS:
5. TRADING PLACES 4. DIE HARD 3. ELF 2. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE 1. HOME ALONE