This article first featured in my December Newsletter - sign-up here.
The Kiwis and Britts alike have a subtle reputation of going “all in” when it comes to the holidays. ‘Moderation’ becomes something of the past, and our minds are invaded by thoughts around “letting go” or even, “I deserve this after my big year.” Both of which lead to a particularly boozy Christmas and New Year - something we pay for come January.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a night out every now and again, especially when I’m celebrating with a bunch of good friends. But then January comes around and we’re all on the edge of a new year (and a new you!). We avoid meeting our reflection in the mirror, we’re utterly exhausted, we can’t do up the top button of our jeans, and we lament that our digestion’s gone awry. What we wouldn’t give to go back and not have “let go” quite so much.
I’ve often asked myself if a month’s worth of upset bowels, exhaustion, and extended weight loss effort is worth a couple weeks of heavy drinking, copious amounts of sugary foods, and an array of processed carbohydrates. After a few years of trying this out, I now know that for me it’s not worth the calamity. I’m not saying to avoid alcohol and Christmas pudding all together; I’m just saying that sometimes it can be incredibly helpful to remember that age-old word of wisdom; ‘moderation’.
When it comes to alcohol, I’ve noticed the common trend for my generation is “more is better.” I have realised that if we live our lives with this attitude we will continue to disappoint ourselves and others. “More is better” is not a mentality we want our children to learn from us. Why? Because we want our children to be healthy with congested-free livers that don’t lead to sickness and disease, we want our children to find their fun out of life and not out of drinking, and we want them to be confident in themselves instead of relying on alcohol to help them fit in. I would go as far as saying that we want these things for our friends and our spouses as well. However, no matter how much we don’t want to set an example of binge drinking (more than 4-5 standard glasses a night), we’re quite happy to loose ourselves when it comes to a free (or cheap) drink.
To support you in having the best holiday season - one filled with fun that doesn’t squander your health and wellbeing – I’ve combined a few points on how to feed, nourish, and value yourself amongst the celebrations with a glass of mulled wine in hand.
Christmas Party FOMO
Imagine walking into a Friday night Christmas party (just one of the many) where free alcohol is provided; do you ever have that feeling that because it’s free you must consume as much as possible? Welcome to your humanity. It is a natural thought (for whatever reason) but there are ways to counter this persuasive lie so our health stays intact, so we don’t feel the burden of weight loss come January, and so our bodies still function (reasonably) well. In some ways we over drink on these occasions because we feel like this is the last opportunity. Yet, next week we’re at a new party with another opportunity to drink as freely as we like, and of course we take the bait, hook line and sinker.
Tip #1: When the champagne is flowing, remind yourself that this isn’t the last time you’ll be offered a free drink.
Alcohol = Fun
I like a glass of red wine just as much as the next guy, but more often than not I am finding that ‘less is more.’ A few years back I believed that a really great night out was one where I drank a lot of wine and consequently felt tipsy. As I ventured more and more into my journey of health, in many ways I had to retrain my brain to believe that alcohol didn’t increase my sense of fun – that fun was what I made it. I’m a bit stubborn when it comes to certain ideas, this being one of them; I never wanted to be a person who relied on a substance for fun. Because of this I practiced nights without alcohol and soon realised that a party is a party is a party, alcohol or no alcohol. I definitely enjoy a glass of wine at a dinner party, but once I’ve had a couple the flavour tends to go and I’ve realised that by drinking more, what I’m really trying to do is retain some kind of feeling of happiness, or increase a feeling of excitement that doesn’t need to be created by alcohol, but by my own outlook on the situation.
Tip #2: You don’t need alcohol to have fun – you and your friends are enough.
Alcohol can be so easy to drink fast, especially if you’re a beer drinker or prefer sweeter alcoholic drinks. This leads to intense dehydration and a morning of exhaustion, poor energy, and (sometimes) regret. It can be a great idea to sub in a glass of water after an alcoholic beverage. This slows down consumption, and it will also help to relieve those groggy morning afters.
Tip #3: Follow each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water.
Quantify Your Maximum
Decide on a number of drinks you’ll consume before you arrive at an event. I’ve found that this is the most helpful way to avoid binge drinking. If it’s a night of celebration during this holiday season, you may want to lean towards the 3 – 4 alcoholic glasses, otherwise if it’s a dinner party at a friend’s house you might stick with 2 or 3 max. Whatever the occasion, make a decision in advance and commit yourself to seeing it through. Some of us can find it difficult to maintain our commitment in the moment. This is when it becomes helpful to have some understanding around the damage we are doing to our livers (see article here), and also to be reminded of the kind of example we want to set. This will look different to each one of us, but make decisions that you’re proud of.
Tip #4: Identify and commit to a number of alcoholic beverages before an event.
I hope you found some of these tips helpful and that you enjoy your holiday season with those you love. Similar tips can apply for sugar and processed foods as well. Choose the times you will and will not indulge in the traditional Christmas pudding, or better yet, make a sugar-free dessert! Here are some suggestions....
Feed, nourish, value yourself.