Keeping Your Energy Up for Christmas
It has been a long year. Really it feels like about 4 years at this stage. Lockdowns, restrictions, learning to Zoom, realising you could have been talking to all your friends abroad online for years. Learning to make banana bread, realising you hate banana bread. And then the less fun stuff. Some of us have been really ill. Some have lost family and friends. Most of us have learned a huge resilience this year but even the best of us might be feeling a bit flat at this stage. So let’s make Christmas one big celebration that we really need to lift our spirits. So how can you boost your energy now and into the New Year?
Give yourself a break
Let’s face it, it has been a tough year for everyone. It’s okay if you didn’t get to sculpt a new body, write a novel and break the world record for marathon running. If you just got through intact, you are ahead of the game. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do everything. Think about what will really make you and your loved ones feel a bit better this Christmas and go with that. You don’t have to do it all.
drink some water
This advice is as old as the hills but still important. Being dehydrated can drop your energy levels, cause headaches and put you in a fairly bad mood. It also aggravates constipation, which is a common enough problem among coeliacs (sorry to lower the tone…). Head off dehydration by remembering to drink a glass of water at each meal and a glass in between each meal. Add some herbal teas (try peppermint, chamomile or spiced apple) on a cold day to heat you up and top up your fluid. Tea and coffee can dehydrate some people so you can have them, but you need other drinks as well. Sadly, alcohol dehydrates everyone so, if you are drinking, remember to have plenty of water along with your favourite tipple.
Darker evenings means we are sitting in, nice and cosy, watching TV and staying up until way too late. Remember that you need 8-9 hours sleep a night (yes, really!) so plan ahead. If you need to be up at 7am then you need to be in bed by 11pm at the latest. Give your body the chance to get the sleep it needs. Getting enough sleep doesn’t just lift your energy, it lifts your mood as well. It might take 2-3 weeks for you to really feel the benefit of a good 8 hours but start now, and you will be all set for Christmas.
Not just for bones, vitamin D plays a role in reducing anxiety and depression. And people with Coeliac Disease are more likely to be low in vitamin D. Although you can find vitamin D in oily fish and eggs, it is very difficult to eat enough of these to get the vitamin D you need. The lack of sunshine in winter doesn’t help either. So what do you do? You need a supplement of vitamin D of 10 micrograms per day. This is good advice for everyone, not just people with coeliac disease so spread the word!
omega-3s from fish
Fish omega-3s are packed with EPA, a special omega-3 that has been shown to help mood, anxiety and depression. You will get plenty from eating oily fish twice a week – try salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and trout. Sea bass actually has quite a bit of omega-3 as well. If you never eat fish, then you could try a fish oil supplement instead. Look for one that gives you around 500mg of EPA per day.
There is not a whole lot of sunshine at this time of year so we do need to take advantage of it when it is there. Studies are clear that getting outside – even on dull days – helps lift our mood and promotes better sleep. With many of us working from home, we are not even getting that bit of daylight on our daily commute. Try to head outside during the day – even for 10 minutes. If you can squeeze in a walk, even better. Wrap up and have your coffee break in your garden or just outside your front door. Even a few minutes can pick you up more than you might expect.
Exercise is one of the best ways to help reduce stress and boost your mood. Exercise can sound like a bad word but if you think about it as just moving, it’s a little easier. Moving gets endorphins going in your body. These happy hormones help to reduce stress and anxiety and put you in a better mood. Aim to get around 30 minutes of any exercise 5 days a week. If you are really out of practice, start with 10 minutes and work from there. And if you are having a bad day, get out for a walk or even just do some jumping jacks in your kitchen. You may feel ridiculous, but you will feel much better when they’re done.
Food and eating are some of the great pleasures of Christmas. And while we don’t want you to gain 4 stones over the holiday (see our tips below) do allow yourself to enjoy the really fun parts of Christmas – a good meal with good friends and family. Even if it is online this year.
Help! I’m going to someone else’s house for Dinner
This is often the trickiest part of Christmas. When you are at home, you can control everything from the ingredients to the cross contamination. Going to someone else’s house can unleash a lot of worry for anyone with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. What to do? Just print off this the tips below and give it to the person who’s is cooking with a nice bottle of wine or some chocolates (food helps here). Let them know how much you are looking forward to having dinner with them and asking them if you can have a chat about how to keep you (and your kids?) happy and healthy on Christmas Day.