Winter holidays - how to survive all the food and stay beautiful

It is this time of year - our skin is pale, dry and irritated from lack of fresh air and overdose of drastic temperature changes. On top of that, December is usually one of the most stresful months, with all the holiday preparations, plans and parties. Even though it is time filled with joyful encounters, those are usually accompanied with loads carbs and alcohol. All of these factors have negative effect on our skin, our digestion and overal well-being.

My guest today is a nutritionist, food stylist and author of many healthy recepies, Kristyna Ostraticka. I am hoping to learn from Kristyna how to minimize these holiday side-effects and how to deal with the aftermath later.

Kristyna, Christmas time for me is every year the same - this time of year my skin looks really sad, inflamed and unhappy. Is there a way to fix that with nutrition?

The look of our complection is a combination of factors, nutrition being one of the most important ones. We are, indeed, what we eat. Or vise versa - the healthier we are on the inside, the better we look on the outside. Acne can trouble anyone at any age and processed food can be one of key reasons for it, as well as too much sugar in our diet. All these bad choices (like pre-cooked frozen foods, chips and candy, sweet drinks, fast food etc.) create inflammations in our body, that could lead to acne and uneven skintone, if we are exposed to an unhealthy diet for too long.

Our skin also suffers from the impact of free radicals, that penetrate it due to environment pollution and sun exposure. Skin, that is exposed to loads of free radicals is much more prone to damage and premature aging. Both of these problems can be prevented with great skincare and sun protection. We can also protect ourselves from the inside by making the right dietary choices.

Antioxidants can effectively battle free radicals and we already know where to find them - mostly is fresh vegetables and friut. The rule is simple - the more colors is on your plate, the more antioxidants you get. It is proven, that people who’s diet is poor on nutrients, usually have rougher and drier skin, than those who’s diet is fresh and diverse. Partially, the reason for this is extra hydration, that fresh food gives us, but also the amounts of nutrients such as antioxidants, “good” fats, enzymes and vitamins. It is also very important to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, either from fresh fish or dietary supplements.

What is your opinion on alcohol consumption together with sweet foods during the holidays? I guess it is not good for our skin, but after how long can we see the negative effect?

Sugar and alcohol are a deadly combo for the body. Alcohol causes severe dehydration, while sugar supports inflammation. Alcohol itself is another source of sugar. When you eat food that contains sugar, your body reacts immediately with an insuline production to even out the high glukose levels in our bloodstream. These extreme changes are very stressful for the body. Right after eating something sweet we feel energized, the energy levels, however, drop just as fast, making us tired again, sometimes even irritable. And we crave something sweet again.  If this happens once in a while, our body is able to deal with it, but long-term these cycles of high energy vs. severe fatigue are really bad for us. Sugar in our diet leads to a process called glycation, that destroys collagen and elasting in our skin, causing aging and skin damage.

This sounds really bad. What do you suggest to balance out such unhealthy diet during the holidays?

Try to minimize sugar in your diet in general, use sweeteners instead - e.g. erythritol or stevia are great natural substitutes. Generally, it is beneficial to build your diet on foods that gives our body the nutrition it needs, but with low glycemic index, ergo bringing less glycemic stress for the body.

Do you think that wrong diet could be a factor in our mood and fatigue during stresful weeks before the holidays? And if so, can we do anything about it?

Absolutely. If we cut sugar and carbs with a high glycemic index from our diet, we get stable levels of blood sugar and a stable income of energy during the day. This puts less stress on our system, makes the restoration process easier and faster, leaving us with better digestion, deeper sleep and nicer skin. As an added benefit we get less mood swings and higher stress-resilience. Who doesn’t want that?

I certainly do! Let’s get back to skincare. As we change our diet according to season, do you adjust your beauty ritual as well?

Yes and no. I usually try to listen to my skin and give it what it needs at the time, in winter it is usually hydration. As for products, I go for high quality green beauty brands all year long, as well as using SPF both in summer and winter time.

I know you have been using Reclar Ritual Reeler for a while, could you share your experience with it?

My job is not only in the kitchen, I am also working a lot for TV and film, both behind and in front of the camera. My skin represents me and it needs to be flawless. Reclar worked amazingly for me - finally, I can go out without foundation and feel good in my own skin. My skin looks juicy, brightened and, last but not least, I do really enjoy the ritual of using Reclar itself. It is usually the last thing I do before going to sleep and it sets my mind to unwind and rest.

Lastly, I would like to ask you for your ultimate recipe for the day “after” - after we overdid it with food and drinks. What do you recommend?

Chicken soup is a classic hangover remedy - it restores the lost hydration and gives the body all the energy and nutrients it needs, while being easy to digest. This one also contains curcuma, which works against inflammation.

Chicken soup with quinoa and curcuma

Gluten free - lactose free - suitable for freezing

4 servings

500 g chicken breast

1,7 l water or chicken broth

1 big carrot

2 sticks celery

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

2 tblsp olive oil

0,5 tsp curcuma powder

60 g quinoa

1 tblsp lemon jiuce

fresh parsley

salt and pepper

Cook the chicken in water for about 30 minutes (you can use the water from cooking instead of broth later). 

Cut the celery and the carrot in cubes, finely cut the onion, slice the garlic. Heat the olive oil in another pot and put the onion in first, then add the carrots, celery and garlic. Dust with curcuma powder, add quinoa and broth or water. Lower the heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. 

Finally, add some lemon juice, fresh parley, salt and pepper. Top with sliced or pulled chicken meat and enjoy!

Thank you so much for your time, Kristyna! Good luck to you and hope to see you again sometime at Reclar magazine!

By Asya Meytuv