Short answer: By taking care of our gut and mental health in the days and weeks prior to the big festivities, we can set ourselves up to enjoy ourselves and all the indulgences that go with the festive season, giving ourselves the best chance of a quick recovery and preparation for a healthy and happy New Year.
This time of year is called the silly season for a reason. It is the time when we are tempted to over eat and over stress, with the recovery time often lasting well into the New Year.
How then do we find the balance between festive indulgence and healthy living? Preparing ourselves with healthy gut habits (including taking care of our microbiome) in the days and weeks prior to the celebrations, sets us up for healthier food and drink choices. Additionally, because this can be a very stressful time of year, we should also be conscious of our mental health and when and where to seek support.
If your gut and headspace are healthy to begin with, you’re much less likely to be knocked off balance by a couple of weeks of celebration.
Here are some healthy tips:
· We can assist our gut by eating more prebiotic foods like garlic, onions, artichokes, and a wide variety of grains and yoghurts.
· It is helpful to eat resistant starches like grainy wholemeal bread, legumes (beans and lentils), firm greenish bananas and starchy vegetables like potatoes, and pasta and rice, which are also great chilled and served in a salad.
· Choose fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables and steer clear of added sugar where you can.
· Beware of over consumption of red and processed meats, but If you can’t resist, eat them with resistant starch such as a potato or pasta salad with your steak at a BBQ.
· Don’t forget to exercise over the break, as it’s good for both the gut and the head. Even a brisk walk can ‘get things moving along’ and keep you ‘regular’ which helps improve your gut. Physical activity and a good headspace go hand in hand.
· Check out the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating to keep track of ‘sometimes’ foods to ensure they stay as an occasional indulgence and don’t become an everyday inclusion in your diet over the festive season.
· Watch your alcohol consumption, as excessive consumption isn’t good for your physical health and also a factor in poor mental health.
The festive season, although a time of joy for many, can be a negative trigger for others. For any number of reasons, people may find themselves needing some extra emotional support.
The good news is you CAN enjoy this time of year and help yourself by putting plans and boundaries into place. Here at WLC Medical we can assist you with those plans, whether through our dietitian Andrea Kunneke, our psychologist David Simich, or either counsellors within our clinic at Keystone Counselling and Belmont Counselling. Feel free to check out our website for opening hours and availability over the Christmas and New Year period.
May we take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year from all of us here at WLC!