Your hormones can take a battering over the Christmas period. In return, they are likely to leave you a few gifts – some extra pounds around your waist, a foul mood and zero energy come January!
Let’s start with stress….
If you’re a woman with a family (and more than likely a busy job), Christmas is no doubt the most stressful time of year. You are super busy at the best of times, but add in the extra shopping, planning, cooking, relatives and the rest, it can be really hard.
You are likely to be running on cortisol, your stress hormone, to keep you going through this time. If you’ve got too much cortisol, it’s going to make you cranky, wired and tired. If you haven’t got enough cortisol, it’s going to be really hard to get through it all (exhausted, over-emotional and anxious).
Either way, stress packs on the pounds, especially around your middle. That’s because cortisol’s job is to raise your blood sugar (in case we need to run away or fight the danger). But you won’t be using all that sugar to ‘fight or flight’ so you store it away as belly fat for another time. Cortisol can also suppress thyroid, your metabolism regulator, making you sluggish and more likely to put on weight.
And what about those Christmas treats?
I know Christmas is a time for celebrating – I am the last person that can resist mince pies, mulled wine and fizz. Pile on top of that a few Christmas lunches, some gingerbread lattes (oh go on, stick some gingerbread syrup in there, its Christmas) and that Cadbury’s selection box, and you’ve got yourself a huge carb fest to manage.
All those carbs are going to put you on the blood sugar roller coaster, giving you huge insulin highs and lows, making you exhausted and craving more sugary carbs. Insulin mops up all that extra sugar and stores it away as fat.
Alcohol is hard to resist this time of year, messing even more with your blood sugar leaving you dehydrated, adding to the body’s stress levels. It also messes with your sleep, making you more tired (and hungry) the next day.
So Christmas can be a disaster for your waist and hormones! And if you’re already challenged in that area, the extra damage can almost seem irreversible come January.
BUT if you are bit savvy, there are some ways you can avoid the big carb pile up and not have a mountain to climb in January.
My tips to beat the holiday bloat
- Eat before you party. Make sure you have a healthy meal before you get to the party so you can avoid the carby canapés and snacks. Lots of veggies, some good protein and some healthy fats should fill you up and give you plenty of nutrients so your hunger hormones stay quiet.
- Prioritise 1 or 2 events you want to indulge at – that way you won’t overdo at every event in December.
- Be the driver for some events – give your liver a break.
- Don’t stock up on Christmas food – buy what you need, and keep the treats to a minimum (for kids or guests!). The more temptation in the cupboards the more you’ll indulge.
- Stay off the cocktails – they are loaded with sugar. Try red wine, which has less sugar and you are unlikely to drink as much either.
- Drink plenty of water, especially when drinking alcohol. Try and drink one glass of water between each drink. It will reduce the dehydration and help your liver detoxify.
- Choose quality over quantity – don’t binge on Iceland’s 10 for a pound party ‘food’ – if you’re going to indulge, choose fewer good quality snacks and enjoy them.
- Eat well inbetween events – make sure you are getting plenty of nutrients, protein and healthy fats (green protein smoothies are great for this) – should keep you on track and able to handle the odd indulgence.
- Stick with the programme – don’t let up on your exercise or classes just because it’s Christmas. Burning off those excess carbs will help minimise any weight gain.
- RELAX – it can be a very stressful time, and when we’re stressed we crave foods high in sugar and carbs, so make sure you schedule in some relaxation – yoga, pilates, meditation, relax tapes, music, walking in nature, massage, Epsom Salt baths – whatever keeps you chilled.
- Don’t write off the Christmas period and leave it to January to sort out! Classic mistake because when January comes around, the task will be so much bigger than it could have been.
Easier said than done I know, it is Christmas after all – but if you try a few of these tips out, you will be looking after your hormones and you might be surprised you can still do up your jeans post the binge season!
And if you don’t manage to avoid the weight gain, and need some help getting those hormones back into balance, contact us for a free chat; www.happyhormonesforlife.com/contact.