Unexpected Health Benefits of the Traditional Christmas Dinner

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Why Hedonistas Should Hibernate

  • When we’re awake, we want the first part of this digestive process from our food and digestion, as we want to be able to use the energy and nutrition from the food we eat. When planning your meal times, bear in mind that exercise diverts resources away from the digestive tract, so avoid large meals before a workout. Stress can also have a negative impact on digestion, making the festive period an especially hard time. Eating more in the earlier parts of the day, and then gradually reducing meal sizes as we move towards sleep time is the most nutritionally beneficial way to eat for most people, so try to eat Christmas lunch earlier in the day and stick to canapes at evening dos.
  • Alcohol should be drunk in moderation. It causes blood sugar rebounds and dehydration, both of which can have a negative effect on your quality of sleep. If the booze is flowing at your Christmas parties, try to limit your intake to 2-3 glasses of prosecco, or create a ‘cut-off’ point for your drinking so that you have a better chance of sleeping when you get in. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water to rehydrate after a big night out!
  • Best foods for sleep are almonds, avocados, cherries, spinach, egg whites and… TURKEY! So treat yourself to a good old Christmas sandwich, and try and hang on to healthy breakfasts with a nice spinach omelet, or some smashed avocado.
  • Studies have shown that blue light emitted by screens has a similar effect, particularly in suppressing the release of melatonin – one of the important messengers in the initiation of sleep. Thus, people who use screens in the hours before bed experience poorer sleep and feel sleepier the next day. However, it’s important to know that other wavelengths of light, as well as the brightness, are also implicated modulating our sleep/wake cycle. Give yourself the best shot at switching off, by switching off. Reduce blue light and avoid looking at digital devices and bright lights for two-to-three hours before bed over the festive period.
  • Some smells can affect your mood, making you more relaxed and calm. Sprinkle a potpourri with essential oils of lavender or geranium which are often used as relaxants. Not to be used during pregnancy or in children’s rooms.
  • Steady, low sounds are soothing and help block out other noises. Some people may find listening to ‘white noise’ or relaxing sounds help them sleep better. Listening to soothing music before bed calms the mind, making it easier to fall asleep – particularly if you were just throwing tipsy shapes to Little Mix at the Christmas do….

Unexpected Health Benefits of the Traditional Christmas Dinner

[Clinical psychologist Lucia Giombini and family nutritionist Samantha Paget]

  • Eating dinner alone can increase negative feelings such as anxiety or sadness, and also lead us to be disconnected from physical sensations such as hunger and fullness.
  • Eating Christmas dinner in front of the TV is classed as a digital distraction, leading us to over-eating and disconnectedness. Children can learn good table manners from large family meals and the art of conversation whilst eating, while also developing an appreciation of good food.
  • Tip 1: Design a dining space to be proud of

If people find eating at the dining table a struggle, try making the space more attractive – that means no clutter and mess! And if you don’t have room for a big dining table, don’t be put off – experiment with different shapes, styles and materials – perhaps consider an oak dining table or an extendable dining table option!

  • Tip 2: Practice a dining digital detox

Try to ban all tech from your mealtimes to prevent distraction while eating – but be sure to go by your own rules if you do. Parents need to model appropriate behavior for their children, so there’s no point insisting that the children can’t use tech if they’re guilty of checking emails!

  • Tip 3: Carve out some real time for eating

To avoid negative feelings of anxiety and stress caused by eating on the go at work, be sure to carve out dedicated time for your lunch break in which you pay attention to your emotions and to eating.

  • Tip 4: Create a sense of routine

Develop a structured mealtime routine to make it a regular part of your day: set the table, institute a regular time each day, and communicate work and after-school schedules with family members. Encourage children to talk meaningfully about their days.

  • Tip 5: Get the kids involved

To make dining around the table more enjoyable for children, involve them in food prep and shopping, and when you sit down to eat – try to keep the conversation interesting for the whole family!

There’s also more info here: https://www.furniturevillage.co.uk/the-home-of-inspiration/dining/dining-table-article/a3e88ed5-9246-4385-a537-a26c8d81cdba.html

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