Ahh, January. We’ve survived the season of eating, drinking and being merry... and now we’re trying to feel human again.
Which can be tricky after eating your body weight in Yorkshire puds and chocolate for two weeks straight.
Unfortunately, all of that overeating and over-drinking, combined with far too little movement afterwards (no, switching channels on the remote doesn’t really count as a post-Christmas workout), takes a toll on mind, body and, especially, tummy.
Christmas overindulgence comes at a cost, and our turkey-with-all-the-trimmings lunch brought with it a whole host of digestive issues like heartburn, bloating and indigestion.
No surprise really, though: estimates from the British Dietetic Association find that the average person in the UK consumes as many as 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone (compare that with the average daily recommendations of 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 calories for men).
Not only are we eating vast more quantities of food in December, the food we eat during this festive period tends to be richer and higher in fat. Combine that with drinking more alcohol, colder temperatures making us less likely to want to walk and work out, and feeling the stress... and it’s no wonder our insides feel like they’re going to burst.
As if you needed further proof, “jingle bowels” is now a recognised thing.
But now, it’s a new year, and you’d really like to stick to some of those resolutions. You want to get moving - and not fall into the trap of January slothfulness - you want your diet to include something green and you’d love to go to bed without that achy, heartburn feeling that comes from eating and drinking too much.
Here are some (completely non-drastic ways) to get into a 2017 kind of mood, feeling energised and fit for the year ahead.
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For some, nothing seems like a quicker or easier fix than a juice detox to counteract that festive-period binge. As you probably know, extremes aren't healthy - so going from 1,000-calorie meals to three green juices a day (and nothing else) isn't going to do any favours for your body. Experts have also warned that juicing can cause tummy problems like bloating and diarrhoea, and according to the Mayo Clinic
, juicing isn't any healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables.
So, you don't need to rush out and buy a NutriBullet, but start preparing soups and vegetables to get you through these cold months.Your body will rejoice when it sees a salad for the first time in weeks.
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Indigestion and heartburn are common side-effects of overeating, and you may still be feeling the effects into January. In fact, in an effort to combat the January blues, you may find there's been no respite from your social-and-feasting schedule. Pub lunch, anyone?
Heartburn occurs when acid from the stomach rises up into the oesophagus and throat, causing a painful burning sensation. Certain foods are more likely to aggravate acid reflux, like dairy products, fatty meats, greasy foods and alcohol - pretty much everything you've spent the past several weeks eating.
Here's what you need to do to avoid finding yourself doubled over in pain after each meal. For starters, try not to eat massive quantities in one sitting: opt for smaller meals, eating slowly, and be sure to add in plenty of carbohydrates and vegetables which are easier to digest. You might also need some quick, effective heartburn relief tablets like Rennie
Convenient - you can just pop them in your back pocket or handbag before heading off to your meal, and they're also handy when travelling - Rennie tablets contain antacid to help neutralise excess stomach acid, and work quickly to ease discomfort.
Available in spearmint, peppermint and orange flavours to suit any palate, Rennie will help get rid of heartburn symptoms, wherever and whenever. If you're dealing with other tummy issues, Rennie
also offers remedies for indigestion, trapped wind and painful bloating.
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Instead of putting pressure on yourself to follow through with extreme New Year's resolutions, like going to the gym seven-days-a-week or never eating another biccie again (ever!), focus on decompressing and de-stressing as you prepare and plan for the new year ahead.
Tap into your mindfulness app, take a yoga class or start cycling part of your commute to get some exercise a few days a week.
Remember, food isn't the only thing that can lead to intestinal pain and bloating - stress contributes, too. And getting fit isn't just about increasing your weekly runs - although that doesn't hurt. It's also about feeling clear-headed and energised. Harvard researchers found
that participating in an eight-week mindfulness study positively impacted the brain in the areas of memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. And there's no time like the present to be, well, present.
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While people love to martyr themselves on social media in the name of Dry January, we can agree there are obvious benefits to skipping alcohol for the month, like a happier liver, slimmer waistline and more robust-feeling wallet. In fact, according to Alcohol Concern
, one in six Britons attempt to go alcohol-free in January - not too shabby.Recent research
published in the British Medical Journal
argues that, in fact, it's unclear what the long-term benefits of one month of alcohol abstinence are. The author, Ian Hamilton, believes that two alcohol-free days per week, year-round, are better for you, something the UK government is in line with, recommending "several" alcohol-free days a week.
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That Christmas period where you were continually boozing and eating rich foods didn't just leave you with a headache and tummy cramps. Oh no, it was a lot worse than that.
Research published in the British Medical Journal
warns that slothful, unhealthy days can slash hours per day off your life (on the plus side, eating lots of veg and getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day can add some hours to your life).
The point is, it's easy not to exercise at all in January - that's why New Year's resolutions are so easy to break. It's cold, you're feeling lazy and tired and your next holiday is MONTHS away. Months!
According to a 2007 study from the University of Bristol, 88% of people who make New Year's resolutions fail.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep moving (and trying!): squeezing in a walk or a cycle ride will improve your mood, up your energy levels, help you sleep better and will aid digestion.
Just think: it takes around 30 minutes of working out to burn off just ONE mince pie. Now think about how many mince pies you've consumed in the past three weeks. If that's not enough to get you sprinting, we don't know what is.
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Eating lots of food, quickly, is what contributes to that sickening feeling of being more stuffed than the goose you enjoyed on Boxing Day. So instead of making an extreme resolution, like swearing to only eat courgetti instead of carb-filled pasta, be reasonable with yourself. And take advantage of smaller portion sizes - which can make a world of difference. Researchers have found that larger plates make food servings look smaller, causing us to overeat
. So instead of the crazy diet, just pile your meals onto a side plate and you may find you're full and tummy-trouble free. And this is one resolution you may actually keep...
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