Christmas is a time of indulgence, where we often treat ourselves and don’t like to think about the consequences. So our challenge to you is to have a look at some of the usual areas we get into trouble over Christmas and help you to think about alternatives.
Swap #1 Pavlova for fruit salad
Christmas is well known for overindulgence, particularly of desserts and sweets. While it may be tempting to try EVERYTHING on offer at Christmas dinner, consider if a small serve of each would be better, or swap the dessert for some fruit salad.
Swap #2 Chocolate and lolly bowl for mixed nuts (natural)
There is already enough sweets on offer at the festive season, mix it up a bit by offering a bowl of raw, mixed nuts to snack on instead (or roasted chickpeas if nuts are not your thing, very easy to make at home!)
Swap #3 Soft drink for kombucha
Low in sugar and good for your gut, but still cool, refreshing and bubbly. What’s not to love about kombucha! With many flavours and brands now available from the supermarket, give it a try and see if you like it. I would recommend trying a couple of different brands if the first one doesn’t float your boat, they are all uniquely flavoured and some are less bitter than others.
Swap #4 iPad for board games
While electronics make a great Christmas gift, it is great to take advantage of the time spent together with family and friends at the festive season. Rather than gathering around the iPad, pull out the Monopoly and start a friendly rivalry that could last years!
On a serious note, social connection is declining as use of electronics is rising. Overuse of screens is being shown to be detrimental to many levels of child development, both physical and emotional. While it can be easier to let kids ‘entertain’ themselves on a screen, try and make the time to connect and play together, with cards, board games, or setting up the new train track. It will be much more memorable than an evening watching TV!
Swap #5 Store bought salad dressing for homemade
Store bought salad dressing can contain many additional ingredients and stabilisers to make it shelf safe. Decrease your exposure to additives by making your own salad dressing! A base of olive oil and vinegar is a good start, and you can add whatever spices and herbs you like. And it’s a lot cheaper too!
Swap #6 Snooze button for a morning walk
Just because it’s the holidays or you’re ‘busy’ doesn’t mean you can’t make time for a little exercise. While we don’t recommend showing up to the gym on Boxing day with a tummy full of Christmas pudding, taking a little time out of your day to do some gentle exercise can make the world of difference. And first thing in the morning can be a wonderful way to start your day, especially as the mornings get warmer.
Swap #7 Crackers for celery/carrot/cucumber sticks
Swapping the crackers or wafers from your nibbles plate and replacing them with veggie sticks. An easy way to get an extra serve of veggies into your daily intake, and carrot sticks covered in dip are just yum! A change most people won’t even notice, and it only takes a couple of extra minutes preparation.
Swap #8 Big plate for small plate
If you get the choice at Christmas dinner, grab a smaller plate. Portion sizes at this time of year can get a little out of hand, so take back a bit of control. By choosing a smaller plate, you can try a little of everything and still feel satisfied. Whereas if you had a bigger plate and left it emptier, you could be tempted back to the buffet.
Swap #9 Couch for the posture pole
Yep, just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you can get away with not doing your exercises! Don’t forget to take 15 mins in the evening to relax on your towel or half foam roller, your body and brain will thank you for it! (Not sure what’s going on here? Have a look at our Sympathetic September blog post- Sept 2018, or send us a message for more info)
Swap #10 Pasta salad for quinoa salad
Switching heavy salads like pasta or potato salad for a lighter, more nutritious side like a roast veggie quinoa salad is a great choice. Pasta salad is very gluten and sugar heavy (especially with store bought dressing), and can irritate your gut and spike blood sugars, usually with very little good nutrition there to balance it out. Choosing a green salad or a more nutritious alternative can help to avoid these side effects, and leave more room for dessert 😉
Swap #11 wine for water – every 2nd drink should be water
Again, indulgence is high this time of year. Instead of suggesting you go without alcohol, be smart about how much and how quickly you drink. Try and make every second drink a glass of water, to counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol and to keep you on an even keel. Your head will thank you in the morning!
Swap #12 Checking emails before bed for a meditation
You are on holidays! Whatever it is, it can wait until you are back in the office! But this isn’t just about the emails, it is all phone use in the 2 hours before bed. The blue light from your phone (or TV) has a stimulating effect on your brain, keeping you awake when you should be starting to feel sleepy. So if you really need to use your phone before bed, use it to play a guided meditation to lull you off to a restful sleep. If you don’t know where to start, we love any meditation by Jason Stephenson (on youtube and spotify), but there is lots of choice out there!
So while it may be a holiday time, it pays to remember to look after yourself. Of course, eat, drink and be merry, but be sensible about it! Try some of our swaps and see if it changes how you get through this silly season.
As we come into the silly season at the end of the year, it is common to feel tired, even burnt out. As we all rush through the end of the year with never ending to-do lists and events on every weekend, it makes sense we are all exhausted! But what if you could change this? With one simple word.
Confronting, isn’t it? We are designed to look after the pack, and put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own, even if it is to our own detriment. We get a big neurological reward from helping our peers; it causes a surge of rewarding happy hormones in our brain when we help and give to others. It is not the same when we make time to look after ourselves, often we feel guilty or selfish for putting ourselves ahead of others. Or we might feel like it will create conflict if we say no, so we agree, to go with the path of least resistance.
So this month, we are asking you to be selfish and put the guilt aside, and take time to look after yourself before others. At this time of the year, it can make a big difference, and we would like to challenge you to see what the end of the year could look like if you are not exhausted and scrambling for the finish line at New Year’s Eve.
How to say ‘no’
It can be very difficult to say no. Often we feel obligated, or are paying back a favour, or we can’t think of an excuse quick enough! I am here to tell you, there is no excuse needed. Everyone can understand if you say no, they are probably wishing they said no too!. Honesty is the best policy in this situation. No, I don’t have the time. No, that is not a good idea for me to take on. No, I have other priorities.
The key is to be firm in turning the other person’s request down. Don’t say, ‘I can’t help out right now’, because this creates a time in the future where you might be able to contribute. Be assertive, but polite.
Some people may be a bit frustrated by a refusal, and that is ok, it says a lot more about them than you! But if you feel like you need to explain, you can take the time to say that you are trying to look after yourself and put your energy towards things you really enjoy. Or that you don’t think you could put in the time and effort required to do a good job.
It will feel awkward the first few times, and yes, you will feel a bit guilty and selfish at the time, remember, this is a hardwired response. Just focus on the end goal behind saying no, whether it is spending more time with your family, getting more sleep, or just not being exhausted and strung out!
You can’t pour from an empty cup
Now that you have said no, it is time to look after yourself. This will look different for everyone, but you can make the extra time you now have work for you. Do whatever it is that fills your cup and restores your energy. Have a sleep in, go out for a girl’s night, get a massage, have a weekend away with your partner or by yourself, put the computer away and chill on the couch instead of working.
‘Self care’ is a bit of a cliched concept, but it is increasingly important in our ‘always on’ society. Giving yourself time to switch off, turn inwards and recharge is difficult, but essential. Saying no is the first step towards this. By decreasing your commitments, you can give yourself the gift of time. Time to look after yourself.
Dr Bridget Rodoni, Chiropractor
Bridget has been a practising chiropractor in Ballarat, Victoria for more than 7 years. She has a special interest in headache and migraine, and helping mums to be their best by looking after themselves. When she is not working with patients, she is referee to her two young boys.
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