How to Survive Christmas Party Season
Socialising can be a problem if we fall into bad habits, but with a little willpower and self-awareness you can very quickly form new patterns of behaviour that help, not hinder. I’d like to think I’m a living example: for five years, I drank my way through a career in the City, suffering horrendous hangovers, damaged relationships and a general feeling of complete s***ness. Now, I’ve formed new habits so I can drink – I still love beer! – without doing untold harm to my body.
When you are being careful with your diet, exercising, intermittent fasting or all of the above, how exactly do you get through the party season without it all going wrong? it takes is a few lifestyles “hacks” to keep things in check. I have devised a Christmas party game plan on how to avoid overindulging and minimising the effects if you do!
ALSO READ: How To Stay Lean Over Christmas
Before the event
Being tactical before your Christmas party can make a huge difference to your chances of staying composed all night long! Below are my tried and tested methods that work.
- Fill up on lean protein before you leave the house, everyone knows drinking on an empty stomach can lead to unwanted dance moves later on the night, but it can also prevent you from going overboard with the food that is being served! I particularly like snacking on Salmon fillets, chicken breast, or eggs before a night out. Protein has been shown to improve feelings of satiety compared to fats and carbohydrates, better still, – pair your protein with broccoli, spinach or asparagus – they contain compounds that can speed up the rate at which your liver processes alcohol. Remember, eating is not cheating.
- Buy some Milk Thistle – This natural plant extract has been used for hundreds of years to treat liver problems and thus can help to process the alcohol you are about to consume faster.
- Take a nap – Getting some extra sleep in before a late night can be a great way to stay on top of things. Drinking also interferes with your ability to get R.E.M. sleep, so you probably won’t rest well when you finally do get to bed. Getting plenty of rest before going out drinking is essential.
- Drink Water – Alcohol dehydrates you as it is absorbed and metabolized, and this can cause a hangover. Staying hydrated before, during and after your night out can greatly decrease the chance of you feeling horrendous the next morning. Alcohol dehydrates you as it is absorbed and metabolized, and this can cause a hangover.
- Have a Plan – Setting yourself some ground rules before the night out can greatly increase your chances of staying in control. Book yourself a cab at a particular time, or plan a workout with a friend the next morning, make an early-morning commitment, such as a work meeting or exercise class, or just make something up! Anything to give you an ‘out’.
- Good Intentions – Go out intending not to get drunk.Have you ever tried repeating ‘I will wake up at 7 am’ before going to bed? You’d be surprised by how often it works. Equally, try saying to yourself ‘I am not going to get drunk’ multiple times to yourself. You’ll find you are far less likely to get drunk.
During The Event
Staying in control at the office Christmas party can mean you’re far less likely to say or do something you shouldn’t! I know from experience what it feels like to wake up regretting the night before – either because my behaviour was unacceptable or I ended up eating everyone else’s food! Being mindful during the evening can have a big effect on how the night ends up turning out.
Follow these steps at your Christmas party:
- Quality over quantity. Find an alcoholic drink that you genuinely like (I find spending more money helps!) Sip it slowly and savour the flavours. This one completely changed the way I drink; I learned to appreciate alcohol, rather than using it as a means to an end.
- Stick to clear drinks. The darker the drinks the more congeners there are. Congeners are minor toxins other than ethanol that occur naturally in alcohol beverages as a result of distilling and fermenting processes. The greatest amounts of these toxins are found in red wine and dark liquors such as bourbon, brandy, whiskey and tequila. White wine and clear liquors such as rum, vodka and gin have fewer congeners and therefore cause less frequent and less severe hangovers.
- Drink water. Get into the habit of drinking one glass of water for every alcoholic drink. Not only will it sober you up, but you will be so thankful for it the next day! You may even realise that you don’t want alcohol, but just want the feeling of a drink in your hand. I now often use soda water and fresh lime juice as a non-alcoholic alternative.
- DO NOT DRINK SHOTS. Another game changer for me. I was able to stay in control just drinking beer or wine, but as soon as shots entered the equation that was the end of it.
- Eat protein. Continuing to eat protein-rich foods while drinking will also slow your body’s absorption of alcohol. If you can, carry healthy snacks in your backpack, purse, or close by in case you need a snack to slow down alcohol absorption.
- Be Mindful. Bring your attention to the here and now. This can prevent you from getting over excited and overindulging. While it is certainly tempting to wolf down 15 mince pies, don’t be that person… Nobody likes that person. Instead, it’s better to eat things slowly and really enjoy every bite of food or sip of your drink.
- Find a friend! If you can, team up with a party buddy who will watch out for you while you watch out for them. You can keep an eye on each other and tell one another if it’s time to jump into a cab and call it a night or to lay off the champagne!
After your Event
Let’s face it; despite all our best efforts and precautions, our best intentions go out the window and sometimes we do overindulge! But fear not, if that does happen, there are things you can do to alleviate the impending hangover.
- DRINK WATER – this is the most important step to curing hangover symptoms. Your brain is about 80% water; the pounding headache you get is caused by your brain literally shrinking due to dehydration. Water is the only cure for this. You could also add electrolytes to your water. Make sure you drink lot’s of water in the hours before you go to sleep, and make sure you have a bottle of water next to your bed. There is nothing worse waking up hungover and dehydrated!
- Avoid Paracetamol and other painkillers – these drugs are processed by the liver, the last thing you want to do is overwork your already tired liver!
- Avoid cheese and spicy food – they can increase the time it takes for your body to process alcohol.
- Eat eggs – they contain Cysteine, which can help “mop” up alcohols leftover toxins.
- Replace your coffee with green tea which is packed full of antioxidants to help your cells and therefore organs function better.
- Go for a walk – fresh air can really help with a hangover.
I strongly believe you don’t have to give up alcohol to lead a balanced lifestyle. You shouldn’t have to put your social life on hold to reach your goals; in fact, trying to do that can make it much harder. The more you obsess about your diet and workouts, the more likely you are to mess it up or lose motivation.
Long-established negative behaviours won’t fix themselves overnight, but small changes like these over a long period can have a profound effect on the rest of your life, as well as aiding your health and fitness goals. I think we can all drink to that!