With the festive season now in full swing, a lot of difficult decisions are behind us. There’s no need to worry whether November is too early to be buying six boxes of mince pies, whether it’s wrong to have emptied your advent calendar before advent, or if drinking cold mulled wine straight from the bottle is a step too far (it probably is). For a lot of us once the tree is up, the inhibitions go down. Yes, it’s time to say goodbye to Xmas and give a warm welcome to the three weeks of ExcessMas.

But in amongst the festivities, in that period before YOLO gives way to #NewYearNewMe, should we be trying a few tricks to keep ourselves from the ills of overindulgence? Students on Birmingham City University’s BSc Sport & Exercise Nutrition course, have come up with five golden rules to help you cope with Christmas.

Drink, Drink, Drink (Water) – Switching a few of those cups of gluhwein for a good old fashioned glass of water is one of the most beneficial things you can do at times like this. Alcohol overloads the body with toxins and can deplete of us of valuable salts and nutrients – especially if you’ve been existing on a diet of selection boxes and pigs in blankets. Water will help flush out the toxins, rehydrate you and boost your immune system. It’ll also go some way to taking the edge of that hangover – which is probably all you wanted to hear. If you’re out drinking and can alternate water with every alcoholic drink, then even better. Regularly drinking water will also make you feel fuller, so could help you avoid eating that sixth mince pie.

Exercise – OK so no one wants to go on a cross country run with a belly full of turkey and a banging hangover (although see above and you might escape the latter). But over the coming weeks making time for some exercise is going to have some pretty big benefits. A few trips to the gym will keep your brain, muscles and bones healthy over the break and reduce the toxin levels in the body to make you feel fresher. It has also been proven to have a positive impact on your mood, so that 20-minute workout could help you side step the annual 90-minute family argument.

Get them vitamIN – Eating the right foods can give your energy levels and immune system a boost. In particular, having a diet rich in potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc get a big green tick. Snacking on bananas, dried fruit, green veg and nuts can all be a good way of getting the vitamin levels up as well as reducing the chances of snacking on too many unhealthy party foods. And after all, what could be more festive than dried fruit and nuts?

Don’t sugar coat it – While the mince pies and selection boxes might be hard to avoid entirely, limiting the amount of sugar you have is one the best tips for any busy party period. Obviously a lot of foods fall into this area, but sugary drinks are among the main culprits here – and it’s not just the fizzy drinks that you need to watch out for. Trying to be healthy and drinking fruit juices which are meant to give a healthy boost of antioxidants can actually do more harm than good. With many of these drinks, the level of sugar outweighs the benefits taken from any anti-oxidant content and can leave you crashing with sugar lows, as well as the classic problems for teeth and weight.

Keep your balance – Striking the right balance of nutrients over Christmas will give you the extra energy you need to keep up with your ever increasing social calendar. It can also keep your body weight and fat levels in check and improve you sleep. Getting a blend of macro-nutrients (e.g carbs, proteins and fats) and micro-nutrients (e.g. vitamins and antioxidants) will also give you immune system a boost in the cold weather and can reduce the risk of illnesses ranging from colds to cancer. Balancing your diet will also help keep the body’s pH levels in check, which allows more oxygen to be carried around the body and blood to circulate more easily, giving you more of that much needed energy to keep going on the dance-floor.

The top five tips were selected by students Lucy O’Sullivan, Yana Arsenova and Kacper Gorecki.




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