Medical herbalist Nicola Parker explains natural ways to help you get through this festive season

The problem is that excess can leave you feeling run down, bloated and sluggish.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 12:30 pm

The festive season is finally upon us and after this year, I for one am ready for it. The street outside my clinic is lit up with seasonal lighting, my tree is twinkling in the corner of my living room and my commute to and from work is cheered by the glow of Christmas lights. At time of isolation, during the darkest times of the year, it warms me to see these lights, sparkling with little glimmers of hope for the future, reminding me that others are out there and that there are brighter days to come.

It also helps that the supermarkets are stocked with all the sweet treats I’d usually try and resist. Without the expense of Christmas outings, I’m being indulgent when it comes to making my home feel warmer, buying more scented candles, hot chocolates, the extra fancy Christmas tipple and all the indulgent cheeses that I usually only eat in strict moderation.

Moderation is definitely the dirty word around Christmas. I usually try to preach it, but missing the warmth of family and friends that usually ward off the cold loneliness of winter, this year I find myself resenting it.

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The problem is that excess can leave me feeling run down, bloated and sluggish. I hate the thought of making myself unwell at a time of year when it is so important to stay healthy. So I’ve come up with a plan and dug out some old tips make the unhealthy a little more healthy! If you’d like to join me in this, see my top tips below.

Firstly, take some milk thistle for your liver. If you’re likely to eat more food and drink more alcoholic drinks, your liver is the organ that will feel the brunt of this. Don’t wait until January thinking that you can correct a Christmas binge with a radical detox. Start loving your liver now. I use a Milk Thistle and Dandelion combination. Milk thistle protects the liver from damage and dandelion root stimulates bile flow, encouraging your body to digest and breakdown fats better. Doing this throughout December should help you feel less bloated after eating and less queasy after one too many tipples.

If you’d rather not take a remedy all month round but you want some extra support for the occasional feast, consider a digestive enzyme with large or over indulgent meals. This can help speed up the digestion of a meal and reduce symptoms of bloating, flatulence and indigestion. I use and enzyme called Supergest which is available in small in small quantities making it perfect for one off occasions.

The added bonus of Supergest is that the enzymes help to break down the parts of beans and vegetables that make us windy, meaning you can have an extra helping of Brussels sprouts without the unsocial side effects!

Medical herbalist Nicola Parker

The other thing people tend to eat more of over the Christmas period is sugar. Sugary foods are simply unavoidable at this time of year and if you have a sweet tooth then resisting them can be a battle. Certain herbs and nutrients can ease sugar cravings. Cinnamon is excellent for improving your body’s response to sugar and if you like the taste then it can help to use cinnamon teas regularly throughout the day to combat the urge to pick at the Christmas chocolates.

If you want something stronger, try cinnamon capsules or tincture. It is also used in natural medicine to reduce levels of bacteria that cause bloating in the stomach, so it will help with digestion and wind as well as with sugar cravings. Consider baking rather than buying where possible. It is a fun activity especially with children and you can reduce the amount of refined ingredients that go into your sweet treats. Try sweetening with cinnamon rather than sugar and use natural sweeteners like xylitol as substitutes to reduce the holiday sugar load.

Moderation is always the ideal but you tend to find that your Christmas’s are usually a little more indulgent than the rest of the year, take charge and start helping yourself now. Most importantly, stay well and stay healthy!

For more information or to make an appointment with Nicola either in person or via video consult, contact her clinic on 01524 413733 or at [email protected]