Loving your liver this Christmas: top tips for surviving the party season
Our resident nutritionist Rhaya Jordan has shared ten great ideas to help protect this essential body part from too much boozy excess.
Clinking tall glasses of chilled bubbles, indulging in fine wines alongside rich foods, quaffing cocktails at all times of day and night, passing around nips of whisky on winter walks – the festive season can be a bacchanalia of alcoholic drinks. Chances are you may get a little carried away at least once this Christmas.
We would never deny you the pleasures of your chosen tipple (our latest eBook has the recipe for our favourite winter warmer bullshot; our recipe section has a delicious kir royale plus two excellent Bloody Mary recipes here and here) but as ever, balance is key for wellbeing.
All the liquid merriment can take its toll on your liver, a life-giving organ that many cultures believe is intimately associated with the very essence of a person. In naturopathy, the liver and gut are considered to be the foundation of wellbeing.
Hydrate with fluids that aren’t alcohol – water, mint tea, green tea are your best friends over the party season. Make it a Christmas rule that you will not step out of the door until you’ve downed a large glass of water – even if you are standing in cocktail dress at the front door ready to go!
Sneak in goodness
Be clever about finding ways to incorporate delicious food into Christmas parties that will be friendly to your liver. Artichoke hearts blended until smooth with olive oil is a fantastic dip, for example. Choose things like savoury spelt biscuits, charcoal crackers and crudités over white crackers, crisps or cheese straws.
Pile on the protein
You can enjoy high-quality proteins as delicious canapés and finger foods at parties. Things like devilled eggs, smoked salmon, seafood and shellfish provide fabulous nutritional benefits and substantially cut calories all while remaining luxurious and satisfying.
Watch for sugar
If you are going to have sugar, you should know about it and therefore embrace it as a treat in decadent puddings and desserts. What you should look out for is white sugar hidden in everyday dishes that are not immediately obvious e.g. processed tomato sauces in vol-au-vents. Try to ditch unnecessary added sugar in savoury foods.
Eat without sacrifice
You can still eat sweets which feel incredibly celebratory without punishing your liver with excess sugar and calories. Gelatin is high in collagen which is soothing to the gut and rich in protein.
Make jellies in a martini glass with blood orange, pomegranate seeds and gold leaf for a stunning, festive pudding.
Say ‘no thank you’ to industrially-made, processed festive food; eat only the best mince pies made with real butter and plenty of dried fruit. Whatever you eat has got to be worth the calories!
Give yourself a break
Get ahead of the pack with a more balanced approach in December, rather than waiting until January to start thinking about health and wellbeing. Instead of eating only indulgent foods in December and only frugal foods at January, mix it up in the festive period to offset the excess.
On days you don’t have anything in the diary and are not going out, enjoy foods like chicken bone broths, light lemongrassy soups, juices and winter salads to give your body a break. Have a couple of vegetarian days throughout the week; experiment with recipes to enjoy seasonal vegetables e.g. roasted with a miso glaze.
You may associate salads with warm summers but you can easily adapt dishes to suit colder winter weather and seasonal ingredients.
Embrace the five flavours
Much festive food is sweet and salty but don’t forget about sour, bitter and umami flavours. These add interest and balance to food and can help you feel lighter. Bitter and sour send messages to your liver to increase its detoxification enzymes. Kimchi is a great place to start; a spoonful of our green kimchi is wonderful with all sorts of dishes and we have plenty of other ideas on how to use up your jar here.
Eat the rainbow
Deep, vibrant pigments are magnificent tonics for the liver. If your diary is a whirl of Christmas parties, make sure your plates, bowls and glasses are bursting with colour.
Essentially, the goal is to cycle in and out of partying and resting your body. So this Christmas, eat, drink and be merry – and balanced!