Feeling a bit shouty? Anxious? Teary? Exhausted? Yep, ‘tis the season to be overcommitted, under pressure and up and down like an emotional yo-yo. We’ve recently talked about how exercise can help with stress management, and today, we’re talking about the nutrition side of things.
It’s easy, in December, to let your usual self-care fall by the wayside, but we’re here to remind you that eating well is one of the MOST important things you can do to support your mental and physical health at this time of year. How so?
Stress produces chemicals in our body (hormones like cortisol and adrenaline) associated with inflammation and oxidation. Eating well means providing plenty of the good stuff – antioxidants, healthy fats, fibre, and essential nutrients to counteract the damage incurred when our systems are dealing with stress. It also means supporting gut health, which flows through to better immunity (who needs a virus at this time of year!), reduced inflammation levels and better mood.
Let’s keep it simple here though, and not get bogged down in trying to eat ‘perfectly’ during all those catch ups and end of year functions. Your best bet is to concentrate on what you’re eating MOST of the time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Stock up on fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables that you enjoy eating. Put them front and centre on the kitchen table or bench, so you’re reminded to eat them.
Fill at least half your plate with vegetables – the more colour and variety the better – and incorporate legumes / pulses and whole grains like oats, for their super fibre content and prebiotics for gut health.
Snack on whole foods like nuts, fruit, veggie sticks, yoghurt rather than cookies, cakes, chocolate or chips. A banana and a handful of nuts won’t break the bank, and your body will thank you.
Go easy on the coffee people! Drink lots of water (sparkling, still, tap – whatever you please), fruit and veggie based smoothies and herbal teas. Being well hydrated helps our organs with the detoxifying process. Oh, and please make sure you slot in some regular alcohol-free days each week!