However much we may like the parties and sparkly lights, there are those of us who feel a quiver of apprehension as the festive season approaches. Why? Because we are Afraid of the Festive Fat!
You know how it is. You’re doing well with your healthy regime. You exercise regularly, you have your packed lunches under control, and you know exactly how much cake you can take without putting on weight.
Then come the pastry-filled parties and the bonhomous buffets and the calorific conviviality. You love it all, you really do; your genial soul expands like a flower unfurling in the sun. The problem is, so does your waistband…
You can frolic without the fat if you plan ahead.
- Yes, your schedule will be filled with merry-making, squeezing out the gym time. Get cunning and cram in exercise that doesn’t involve time investment – skipping ropes, hula hoops and mini-steppers can all be used in 5-minute gaps in your day, keeping your circulatory system alive and your arteries open.
- Yes, you will have less sleep, as you host and attend jollifications. Get creative with your flexi-time or plan extra snoozes. Sleep deprivation makes you hungrier, so decline at least one invitation a week for the sake of some slumber.
- Yes, your poor digestive tract will struggle under the load of not-so-dainty delicacies that you can’t in all politeness decline. It gets wearisome trying to stick solely to the garnishes on the side of the plate whilst all around you are vacuuming up the vol-au-vents. So implement these two simple procedures:
1. Take bitter herbs before the banquet begins
2. Chew every delectable mouthful as though it’s your last.
Chewing improves the effectiveness of your digestive process, and it not only slows down the food input but also allows your brain to receive the message that you’re full.
Bitter herbs such as artichoke and dandelion root improve the way you metabolise fats. Artichoke in particular has been shown to reduce plasma cholesterol levels.  It has also been shown to stimulate bile secretion and thereby improve the digestion of fatty foods, as well as inhibiting cholesterol biosynthesis.  That’s fewer belly bulges already.
Dandelion root contains nutrients that the liver needs, such as choline and carotenoids. It improves bile flow, ensuring that dietary fats will be met with a deluge of blubber-busting bile salts.
Bitter herbs wake up the stomach and alert it to the imminent arrival of food, so that all your enzymes will be present and correct ready to break down the incoming stodge as effectively as possible. Not that you can eat endlessly without consequences, but more of the morsels will be metabolised in an efficient manner.
The other benefit is that you are less likely to feel wretched the morning after your revelries. Symptoms such as an upset stomach, indigestion, abdominal pain, belching and nausea are curtailed.
Wassail without worries!
 Bundy R et al. Phytomedicine 2008; 15: 668-75
 Fintelmann V et al. Dtsch Apoth Dg 1996; 136: 1405