Christmas Bulge Anyone?

How did you manage your food intake over the Christmas Holiday? Did you find yourself eating things that you would normally avoid? Maybe put on a little bit of weight?

Usually Christmas would see me add a few pounds, I can remember Christmases twenty years ago when I would put on at least 7 pounds over the two weeks of festivities, back then I was really quite fit and would drop the weight easily once I was back cycling to work, playing squash and volleyball with my workmates and swimming a few times a week.

Over the years I continued to add weight over the Christmas holidays, however I wasn’t always successful in dropping the pounds, especially in more recent years. My favourite foods for the holidays would have included Mince Pies with lashings of thick cream and Brandy Butter,  sandwiches with butter, pate, chestnuts, mayonnaise, cheese – yes, that was all in one sandwich!

This year I avoided all grains and sugars successfully and it surprised me how easy it was for me to do. I will admit that I had a very quiet Christmas and was not in the company of people eating all the foods I wished to avoid so I think this is the main reason that I found it easy.

I had food treats in the form of really good, nitrate-free rashers (bacon), good quality meat, lots of coconut oil and cream, good organic veggies, lovely Irish butter and I kept my fruit intake to a Clementine per day.

I guess the one real non-paleo food was fresh organic dairy cream, which I added to hot cocoa drinks, mixed with coconut cream and cocoa for ice-cream replacement snacks and put in my coffee. One of those coffees was in bed most mornings – really decadent in my book and very enjoyable!

I think that this was the first Christmas for well over twenty years when I did not add any weight and I am really pleased. I didn’t loose any weight although I wasn’t expecting to so I am not disappointed at all with that. However now I really feel that I need to kick start my metabolism with exercise.

Over the holiday I stopped logging my food and I did very little physical exercise, mostly I watched movies and read some great new books – in other words – I sat a lot. And when I say a lot, I do mean a lot!

I have started to use my food journal again and it has reminded me of the correct proportions of protein, carbohydrate and fat that I am aiming for in my weekly intake. I have stopped having a mug of coffee automatically first thing in the morning and I have found that I am drinking more fresh water as a result. I save my one mug of coffee for later in the day now and enjoy it more.

For the last week or so I have been gradually adding physical exercise back into my life, in the form of walks, splitting wood for kindling, spring-cleaning, washing windows and doors etc. Not massive changes however I think these are the sorts of changes that are more likely to stay a part of my lifestyle. I know that when the weather is better I will be doing a lot more outdoor work, until then I will continue to increase daily activity and hopefully undo some of the damage all the sitting has done.

How was your holiday eating experience and what changes are you making for the New Year?

Cold Recovery

What do you do if you have a cold and wish to avoid sugar? Most, in fact, almost all over-the-counter cold remedies contain sugar, some contain a lot of sugar. Is there any point in taking a cold-remedy that only serves to suppress your immune system?

I’ve had a winter cold for the last few days, I’ve had a similar cold every winter for the last few years and I really feel as though I am recovering much more quickly this year than usual. My cold is usually the slight sore throat, slight phlegmy cough, a few aches, a little fever and heavy on the sniffling and sneezing variety and this year is no different.

I’ve never been a fan of Lemsips Hot Drink because I always found them to be nauseatingly sweet however I often would use something like Potter’s cough remedy from the Health Food Store. Sometimes I would also take Echinacea or bee pollen throat lozenges. Generally I would also go for hot water, lemon juice and a big spoonful of honey as a soothing drink. All of these remedies, whether homemade or store bought, contain quite a bit of sugar in one form or another.

How to avoid sugary remedies

This time, because I am avoiding sugars, I had to rethink my cold strategy. I know now that sugar has a compromising effect on our immune system so I would not make an exception to my no-sugar rule and take that cough mixture or lozenge. There’s an interesting article at Mark’s Daily Apple on sugar suppressing the immune system.

I am making sure to get enough sleep, having luxurious sleep-ins in the morning as well as going to bed early. The silk under-vests have come out of the winter wardrobe, it hadn’t really been cold enough here until this week to merit wearing the thermals. I bought some ginger and also a box of Ginger and Lemon Herbal Teabags. The herbal tea is quite tasty and the addition of a few slices of freshly cut ginger adds a little bite and some soothing heat.

Because I was having some allergic rhinitis trouble before the cold came on I was already taking a supplement called Beta Glucans Immune Complex which contains vit C, zinc, beta glucans, selenium and vit D3. I usually avoid taking supplements like this as I have haemochromatosis and I don’t need the help given by vit C  to absorb iron – my body already has more than enough iron. I make an exception though when I have a cold and always take some vit C then.

I love to learn new food facts

What I didn’t know in previous years however is that the sugar I would consume in my honey drinks, cough mixture and lozenges would prevent the vit C from working effectively. In the 1970s it was discovered that white blood cells need vit C in order to gobble up viruses and bacteria. Apparently sugar gets in the way of this happening. This article here – Sugar’s Effect On You Health explains this very well.

I had been thinking that I was recovering well despite not taking the usual cold remedies – turns out that I am recovering well because I haven’t taken the usual remedies.