Balanced Hormones in Holiday Silly Season
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Balanced Hormones in Silly Season
The holiday season is a time when we are surrounded by sugar-filled treats, punch bowls, cheese boards and a nice sprinkle of family tension. When you’ve been keeping up with your healthy habits for a while, the arrival of the silly season can feel daunting, particularly when it comes to keeping your PMS, period pain and acne at bay.
Heading into the holiday season with a few healthy tricks up your sleeve and spending a little time planning is the best way to ensure you enjoy the celebrations without entering the new year with worsened PMS, period symptoms or skin breakouts.
Let’s dive in to the top 8 tips to keep your hormones balanced this festive season:
This Is A Time Of Year When Many People Take An All-Or-Nothing Approach:
Some of us throw in the towel because we’ve been so good all year. We have massive blow outs, binging on everything in sight, telling ourselves we’ll “get back on track” in the new year.
Or we’re on the other end of the spectrum: meticulously trying to maintain our healthy habits at the expense of enjoying the celebrations and feeling like the ‘boring one’ at the party.
I want to offer you a third alternative:
I encourage you to ditch the gilt and find a happy medium between the two extreme approaches.
One where you mindfully enjoy your favourite foods and a few drinks.
You choose foods that you love, eat slowly and enjoy every bite. You don’t allow those feelings of guilt to creep in or thoughts that you have “derailed” your success.
When you do over-indulge, you remember that one single meal, day or even week of eating is not going to ruin your success. You remind yourself that stressing about unhealthy choices can often cause more hormonal havoc than just eating the food and moving on.
When your days are filled with social events, preparing food, dealing with relatives and travel, exercise is often one of the last things on your mind. Instead of trying to follow your regular routine, opt for manageable movement like a 15-20 minute walk around the block, 3 times per week (great to do when you are digesting that festive lunch!)
Remove your expectations that you will keep up with your regular routine, and make a compromise that is realistic given the time of year. Remember that any movement is better than none when it comes to your hormones.
Moving your body in a way that feels good to you is a great way to naturally reduce PMS, support digestion and keep your cortisol levels in check. Get creative: take a walk around the airport if you are travelling, find some stairs to walk up and down or drag a relative out for a walk with you.
As much as most of us don’t like to hear it, alcohol and your hormones are not great friends. Even just one drink daily can increase our circulating estrogen levels (not good news if you suffer from PMS, period pain, breast tenderness or mood swings!).
Avoiding alcohol altogether is usually unachievable for most of us during the silly season, so if you want to drink, try spacing out your drinks over the night. Aim to have a glass of water between each drink, and sip mindfully and slowly.
If you know excess drinking is an issue for you, set yourself a goal for each event you attend e.g. 3 drinks over the night. Always have a snack or meal with your alcohol to slow the rate of absorption and lessen the effect on your gut lining.
Let’s get real: most of us are going to consume excess alcohol and sugar over the festive season. If you know this is likely to be a reality for you, come prepared.
Take a B-complex vitamin before you start drinking and the morning after a big night to help provide your liver with the nutrients it needs to detoxify alcohol (plus this will help to reduce your pounding headache).
At mealtimes, load up on leafy greens (like spinach, kale, rocket/arugula) as these nutritious foods also contain many nutrients that support your hard-working liver.
If you can, cut back on caffeine and unnecessary medications at this time, so that your liver can focus on it’s job of detoxifying alcohol and sugar.
Being thirsty can increase your feelings of hunger, causing you to overeat at meal times (which is extremely easy to do when you are sitting at a holiday feast table!).
Drinking alcohol (and possibly extra caffeine due to the late nights) causes your body to lose more water, increasing your hydration requirements throughout this time. If you live in the southern hemisphere and Christmas time means summer and high temperatures, increasing your water is going to be even more important.
As a general guide, aim for 2-3L of water daily (increased amounts for larger people or higher intensity exercise). Aim to drink most of your water away from meals (small sips are fine) as excess water while eating can cause issues with digestion and bloating.
Aim to include a protein and healthy fat source with every meal. Think: a palm-sized portion of turkey, ham or seafood, plus a generous drizzle of olive oil on your vegetables or some avocado or nuts with your meal.
Fill half your plate with salad and leafy greens, and chose smaller portions of starchy breads, pastas and potato salads. This will keep your blood sugar stable, and minimise blood sugar spikes and crashes when you do enjoy a piece of Christmas cake.
When you eat this way, you can leave a little room for delicious desserts!