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Top tips for a healthy, happy Christmas!

With Christmas just around the corner, our health often gets relegated to the back burner, but with some careful planning we can still celebrate and stay healthy.

Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top tips on how to have the healthiest Christmas ever.

MAINTAIN THE 80/20 RULE

Christmas Day calls for celebration. However, it’s all about balance. Few of us can eat and drink whatever we want all the time without putting on weight and compromising our health. The 80/20 rule means taking a measured approached to 80 per cent of our diet and being more relaxed about the remaining 20 per cent.

There will be plenty of parties over the next few weeks and exercising moderation at a percentage of these is going to stand you in good stead. There’s nothing worse than spending the three weeks before Christmas over-celebrating, only to feel poorly on Christmas Day, while berating the additional kilos! A wise move is to make a plan – look at the whole month and then decide, based on the percentages, which functions are really key for you and where you can afford to overindulge.

PROTECT YOUR LIVER

Festive over-indulgence on fatty food, sweet treats and alcohol can leave you feeling tired while causing havoc to your digestion leading to uncomfortable IBS-type symptoms. The reason? Everything we eat and drink has to be processed by the liver and a change in diet can overload it and as a result it can become sluggish.

A great way to protect the liver is to take the herb milk thistle which helps the body to detoxify and re-generate naturally. Take it for a month over the festive period for best results.

KEEP BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS BALANCED

Consuming additional calories over the Christmas period is inevitable and poor food (and drink) choices at the wrong times can also have a negative effect on weight gain. Additionally, imbalanced blood sugar levels will lead to low energy, mood swings and cravings. Sticking to a few basic eating rules is the answer.

Firstly never miss breakfast. Starting the day with just an espresso is going to send those blood sugar levels racing! Try to have eggs or oat-based cereal (ideally porridge) in some form.

Make sure you have some protein with every meal (or snack) throughout the day. For example, make sure lunch includes some chicken, prawns, tuna, meat, or beans and you’ll start your evening functions in better shape. What’s more those smoked salmon blinis will go down really well!

Keeping your protein levels high will stop hunger pangs, meaning you are less likely to binge on sweet treats, the liver will function better and any weight gain will be minimal.