Can’t believe Christmas is here! Where did 2020 go? Oh well, thanks to covid-19 most of us spent most of the year in some or other sort of restrictions. Glad that Christmas is here and it brings the joy. One challenge which I face during any festive season is over indulgence in food (are you guilty too?). It is not helped by cold and dark winters, where one wishes to only snooze. I am hoping this article helps you achieve your Christmas fitness.
With an average of 3000 calories consumed on Christmas Day alone per person, our bodies go into overdrive on the 25th December trying to digest the high levels of food and so we find ourselves in the Christmas ‘Food Coma’. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without somebody dozing off in an armchair after dinner! Why is it that this festive meal is so snooze-inducing? How can you counter it for an active, and fun-filled Christmas?
James Montgomery-Castle from Soak&Sleep had some good views about it.
What to eat during Christmas for Christmas fitness
- The theory is that people doze off on Christmas Day because of the amount of turkey meat consumed. 🍗
- Turkey is on the naughty list as it contains Tryptophan – a protein which helps us drift off. Reality is that it contains same as any other meat, but when consumed with other carbs, it makes you feel sleepy.
- Avoid loading up on carb-heavy foods to prevent extra insulin being released into your body. 🥔
- Cheese also contains tryptophan (and in much larger doses than Turkey) BUT also contains the counter amino acid tyramine which makes our brain more alert. 🧀
- Switch the poultry for Salmon for a vitamin-rich, lower calorie protein. 🐟
- Cranberry Sauce and Brussel Sprouts should be a dinner plate essential for keeping alert! 🍽
The five foods you should be avoiding in high quantities at Christmas Dinner for Christmas fitness
One of the most famous sources of tryptophan (a sleep-inducing amino acid) turkey is also a great source of protein and will make you feel full so allows you to sleep for hours at a time with a full belly. I agree that Christmas needs to have turkey. Try to portion control and not mix with other carbs in the meal.
The Christmas Pudding staple is known as a great source of healthy fats. Almonds are also bursting with tryptophan and magnesium, which steady heart rhythm that helps you doze off.
3. Potatoes and Stuffing
Now we would never advise missing out on the best parts of Christmas dinner – the light but crunchy roasties, Yorkshire puds and stuffing, however, the high levels of carbohydrates cause your body to release extra insulin to keep your blood sugar in check, which in turn can trigger ‘sleep’ hormones.
A twofold – you might find one glass of wine (or your drink of choice) helps you nod off, but also alcohol stops you falling into deep sleep, leaving you feel groggy and lifeless once you’ve awoken from your nap.
5. Spicy food
Ever had, ahem, digestion issues after a curry? As well as indigestion, chilli peppers contain capsaicin which makes it harder for your body to regulate temperature thus resulting in a less peaceful night’s sleep. Perhaps time to start avoiding the Boxing Day Turkey Curry! Replace it with dhal, such as dhal maharani, or dhal bukhara, or dhal makhni.
Here’s what you should be loading up on your Christmas plate
Hear us out on this one! Cheese also contains tryptophan (and in much larger doses than Turkey) but ever heard people say they have strange dreams after eating lots of cheese? Hard cheese contains high levels of the amino acid tyramine which actually makes the brain feel more alert.
2. Salmon or Smoked salmon
An excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamin D, magnesium and selenium. Salmon is lower in calories and a great source of protein, with useful amounts of vitamin B3 (niacin), which helps your body break down food for energy.
As well as being high in vitamin C, cranberries contain good amounts of the beneficial antioxidant proanthocyanidin. Worth heaping on the cranberry sauce to your Christmas dinner plate for the extra vitamins!
4. Brussels sprouts
Not everyone’s favourite! However, Brussels sprouts are a rich source of folate and vitamin C. Sprouts also contain vitamin B6 which is involved in the metabolism of amino acids, (breaking down some of those that cause us to feel drowsy) the formation of red blood cells and a healthy nervous system.
5. Green Tea
Green tea is my go to thing post meal. It helps in digestion and smoothens tummy too. It helps in getting good sleep.
Can’t avoid the turkey and roasties? Here are top tips for making the most of Christmas Day
1. Alternate your drinks with non-alcoholic beverages
Christmas is a time when people tend to over-indulge in alcohol. If you don’t want to feel drowsy, the answer is to not start drinking too early in the day and to alternate between water and your favourite alcoholic beverage. Try out mocktails like blue lagoon, or virgin mojito.
2. Walk it off
Whilst it’s tempting to plonk yourself on the sofa for the entire day, watching Christmas specials, there’s nothing like a family walk on Christmas Day. Fresh air will wake you up and you’re less likely to want to nap when you return home. You’ll burn off some of those extra calories that you’ve indulged in and if the sun is out, you’ll also get a vitamin D boost!
3. Keep the air flowing through the house
By keeping the windows open, not only are you being Covid conscious, all the fresh air will keep you alert, so win win!
4. Stick to normal bedtimes
The excitement of Christmas Eve can affect how you feel the next day – some will stay up later than usual with friends and family, whilst others will snuggle up early, willing Christmas and Santa to arrive! It’s best if you stick as closely to your usual bedtime as possible if you want to feel at your peak the next day.
5. Keep your mind active
Playing a game after dinner rather than surrendering to the sofa will keep your mind active and alert!