This week can be one of the most testing of the year, albeit our motivation is running on high following a glut indulgence. But kicking the cravings of the beginnings of some bad habits isn’t going to be easy! A while ago I promised a little bit of a summary of what the alcohol we consume is doing while it’s knocking around our insides and I thought now would be an appropriate time to share it with you. Especially if you’re really struggling with the cravings alcohol is notorious for leaving behind, not forgetting the roller coaster ride of sugar you might be feeling.
So first thing is first, alcohol is poison! When we drink excessively our bodies become toxic, our liver has to work harder to cleanse the body and therefore stops burning fat. Alcohol is basically a sugar and we are all aware nowadays that too much refined sugar is far from a good idea, our bodies can’t handle too much of it so it gets stored as fat. Consuming sugar through deliciously tempting wrapped sweeties or fruit laden cocktails is one and the same and the excess calories is destined to land on your tummy and thighs.
Sugar is addictive, so once you start on this slippery slope it’s very difficult to keep your cool and remain in control. So like most of us I expect the last couple of weeks has become one large ice filled piste and unintentionally you are fighting the cravings, feeling exhausted, unenthused and generally not in the best frame of mind to commit to that ‘new year, new me’ thing. (No? Just me then! Yawn, I’m finding it terribly difficult to concentrate this week and can only say I’m glad I was strong when it came to planning my weekly shop for I’d have given in long before now if I hadn’t.)
Sugar/alcohol causes a dramatic and damaging increase to your blood sugar levels, giving a quick burst of energy that quickly wears off, this quickly leads to a crash leaving you feeling tired, grumpy and in need of your next hit. Consuming an unbalanced amount of sugar regularly makes our organs work too hard, forcing them to cope with changes to our internal biochemistry leaves them worn out long before we are.
Alcohol stimulates the production of oestrogen in the bloodstream – this promotes fat storage and decreases muscle growth. Drinking alcohol over an extended period of time has been shown to raise cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone also related with fat storage around the waist line and so is linked with sugar consumption and also diabetes.
So all in all that ‘one for the road’ was neither essential nor going to cause you only a short term issue. One thing I personally find interesting is the cleaner my diet and the healthier I become the more prolonged my recovery. Fuzzy head, sleepy, poor concentration and cravings have ceased to be part of my routine, my recovery currently includes one hour of snooze time in the morning and pick-me up rummaging through the kitchen cupboards at 4pm. It’s very difficult to not just give in but I am determined! I dare say I felt all of these ‘symptoms’ daily before, but accepted them as part and parcel. Being more aware makes me notice how good I feel and this taking a step back shows how subtly bad one can feel too!
If you like me are finding this week somewhat of a challenge help is at hand. I’ve listed my top tips for the delayed onset of festive fatigue:
- Maximise your nutrients – eat raw, fresh and local! Go for rainbow coloured salads busting with antioxidants. Make sure to top with a small handful of nuts or seeds.
- Fat soluble vitamins and minerals can only be absorbed with fat – so if you go on a ‘low fat’ diet your asking to fall short with a few essentials that will help make you feel better.
- Milk thistle – helps to detoxify the liver!
- Sugar (by which I mean alcohol) totally depletes vitamin B so my recommendation would be to stock up on you B- rich goodies such as, pork, poultry, eggs and for vegan folk you might like to try Asparagus, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables. Or even fortified cereals, legumes or peanuts.
- Something I am always keen on magnesium in times of need – it enables energy production and supports the nervous system.It helps with inflammation (caused by sugar) and also helps regulate blood sugar levels. Just what we are crying out for! It can be found in pumpkin seeds (seeds generally) nuts, dark leafy greens, avocado, fish and legumes.
This list is by no means exhaustive but it is something to get us started and hopefully by next week we’ll be bright eyed and bushy tailed.