It’s January. Christmas was great but has taken its toll on your body again. You are starting the New Year tired, a little heavier than you were three weeks ago and having drunk too much after over a period of overindulgence. Fortunately, for those in the drinks industry, we are on hand to offer guidance to get back to the pre-December you.
This is just one of the areas of health we can help with, alongside more serious issues such as dealing with serious illness, coping with disability and substance dependency. Through the charity’s free 24/7 helpline and website which provides over 60 help sheets on a variety of topics, pub, bar and brewery workers can get a range of support on not just health advice but money, housing and mental health too. In the meantime, here are the charity’s tips on countering that Christmas overindulgence.
The Association of UK Dietitians say that the average person in the UK consumes around 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone – between 2-3 times the guideline amount – with possible weight gain across December of 5lbs.
This is often washed down with excessive amounts of alcohol. According to a YouGov survey, nearly half of men and almost a third of women drink over the recommended daily allowance over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, with an overall alcohol consumption increase of 41% across December as a whole.
Whilst Dry January seems to be an ever-increasing movement, there are other steps you can undertake to help reduce the effect of alcohol consumption – allowing you to still enjoy your favourite tipple without giving it up completely. These include:
- Help your body clear out the alcohol by drinking plenty of water between alcoholic drinks, or alternate them with soft drinks. It is estimated that your body needs four-parts water to every one-part alcohol to remove it from your system.
- Drink slowly. This gives your body – and more importantly your liver – time to metabolise and flush the toxins from your body.
- Have at least two, and ideally more, alcohol-free days each week.
- Downsize your drinks – if you’re a beer-drinker, make the units go further by drinking halves instead of pints. If you’re a wine-drinker then opt for a smaller glass.
- Never drink on an empty stomach as this floods your body with alcohol and forces your liver to work too hard. Make sure that you eat carbohydrates and fats before drinking alcohol to line the stomach, prevent nausea, hangovers and to help avoid getting drunk. Food will also absorb some of the alcohol, thereby slowing its delivery into your blood stream.
- Sign up to Club Soda, the mindful drinking organisation. You can join online for free to receive eBooklets on setting goals and tracking your progress, and gain support to change your lifestyle.
Many people will be wincing when they step on the scales in January and setting themselves fitness related resolutions. Here are a few very achievable goals you can make to cancel out the over-indulgence:
- Be active – burn off the extra calories you have taken on by gardening, dancing, or going for a walk. If you are popping to the local shop, think about walking there and back rather than automatically reaching for the car key.
- Track your exercise – free apps such as Runkeeper or MapMyRun can be used for walks, bike rides and more, and help you see how far you have gone and how fast – giving you a goal to beat for next time and added motivation.
- Serve your food in reverse. Most people start with the ‘naughty’ foods leaving little room for vegetables. But by dishing vegetables up first and ensuring they fill half of the plate, you can more easily control the amount of the less healthy items that accompany them.
- Count your chews! Chew every mouthful 20-30 times as this breaks the food down more allowing it to be more easily digested. It also slows you down so you realise you are full sooner, and not when it is all too late.
- Eat oily fish such as salmon and mackerel each week which can help prevent heart disease
But it isn’t just the overindulgence that has a negative effect on our wellbeing by the time January arrives. According to the Sleep Council, we lose over 30 hours of sleep over the festive period – equal to four nights of solid sleep – a considerable amount that can render you irritable and less effective at work. January is the perfect time to get back on an even keel by:
- Try to get back into a regular routine before bed, and instead of ‘cramming’ sleep with one really early night, try to go to bed a little earlier each night to gradually restore your sleep reserves.
- Make your bedroom a technology-free zone. Don’t watch tv in bed, or look at your phone or laptop – the brightly lit screens of phones and computers can decrease the amount of melatonin released at night to help you sleep.
- Aim to get 7-8 hours sleep every night
For a whole range of help sheets on all health issues from improving your work/life balance to coping with illness and accidents, visit our Health pages.