So you are a party animal and want to enjoy all that the festive season has to offer but you also have a busy family life and work commitments to juggle, on top of which three generations of relatives are coming to you for Christmas lunch and are staying until the 28th. You haven't bought all your presents and your niece has just drawn a series of plesiosaurs (you think) all over the walls in thick crayon, just in time for the arrival of your party guests.
Christmas can be great fun but can also be stressful and exhausting. Add in a potentially alarming increase in your alcohol intake and sugar stream and you are all set up for a rollercoaster of fun and total wipeout. You know that you need to climb off the ride for a while and get some rest but it simply isn't possible, so what can you put in your survival kit to combat the rigours of the season?
Eat a good breakfast. This can help keep your blood sugar even and help avoid that afternoon slump. Eggs are a good choice, eg scrambled with some of those smoked salmon scraps and a good handful of herbs, with mushrooms and spinach. Avoid commercial cereals for their sugar content and low nutrient content.
Boost your intake of B vitamins. Alcohol and stress both deplete B vitamins, which are vital for energy production. Good sources include fish, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, wholegrains and turkey.
Maximise your magnesium. Magnesium is calming and more is required in times of stress. It may also improve quality of sleep. It is one of the most important minerals in the body, whilst being one of the most commonly under consumed. The Christmas rush of high sugar foods, carbonated drinks, alcohol and caffeine may all deplete magnesium, so keeping an eye on your intake may be helpful. Magnesium is found in green, leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, fish and quinoa.
Increase healthy fats. The fats known as 'omega 3' are essential in the diet because we cannot make them in our bodies. They have been shown to help balance blood sugar and maintain an even mood. They are found in fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, as well as in flaxseed, walnuts and chia seed.
Get plenty of vitamin C. Stress uses up a lot of Vitamin C and, when you are under stress, you are more likely to be prey to infections, so optimising your intake of protective nutrients may help. It is also depleted by alcohol, so is a great choice for the morning after. Good sources include Brussels sprouts, kale, berries (including cranberries) , peppers and broccoli.
Water. The forgotten nutrient. Drinking plenty of fresh, filtered water throughout the day can make more difference than is sometimes realised. Water takes nutrients around the body and removes waste products, as well as helping many vital reactions take place. If you really struggle to drink water, try adding a slice of lemon or even chopped strawberries. Herbal teas are another alternative, if you prefer your drinks warm but try avoiding those drinks which contain sugar.