Ah, December is well and truly upon us. My cheeks are windchapped, I hear Buble everywhere I go and the talent shows are drawing to a close; X-Factor this week, Strictly Come Dancing next week. I wait with baited breath to see what nuggets of tele-extravaganza will arrive with the New Year. 2012 has been a hotly anticipated year and the capital is certainly gearing up for one hell of an Olympic session. As a commuter into the City, I’ve had the opportunity to observe the landscape of the East End change this past year, with the completion of the stadium and the surrounding buildings it definitely feels like something big is coming.

But enough, 2011 is barely over and here I am looking forward to the warm summer nights already, filled with cheers of millions of spectators and the hungry enthusiasm of participants. We should focus on what lies in the more foreseeable future. Christmas. By Christmas I mean, parties, booze, over indulgence, split dress/trouser seams, hangovers and the overwhelming sense of guilt. You know that feeling…you’ve been dieting since September in the hope of fitting into the Vintage lace ensemble which really will cut off circulation to your limbs; and men you’ve done the manly thing where you don’t really admit you’re on a diet, instead you just cut out beer. Whiskey has far fewer calories you sheepishly tell your mates in the pub on a Friday night,  and then hasten to add at least you’re not drinking something pink.

So in the name of “health” we’ve starved ourselves, cut back on treats, fitted in a few extra workouts, only to enter the month of December and allow all of the forbidden foods to be consumed in quantities enough to horrify the cookie monster. I myself am guilty of this very dietary anomaly. Friday I attended my very first Christmas party of the season. I spent all of last week fretting about whether or not I would fit into my skin-tight dress, I replaced meals with porridge, took extra long bike rides only to guzzle down a 3 course meal with all the trimmings come Friday night. I have only one word: NOM.

In all seriousness, we take for granted the large scale abuse our digestive systems are about to receive in the coming weeks. It’s not just stomachs that are affected, the alcohol consumed will wreak havoc on livers (and of course, sleep cycles), not to mention all the late nights spent “dancing”. I use inverted commas as I’m not too sure how much you can consider stumbling to “Rocking around the Christmas Tree” whilst balancing a plate of sausage rolls and a glass of Merlot, actual dancing.

How do we get through this season with all of our health (and dignity) intact? I propose one little addition to your diet, call it a wonder-treatment if you like, and I assure you, your body will be eternally grateful to me. Goodbye heart-burn, goodbye hangover, sleeplessness and lethargy, hello zing-aliscious ginger!

Ginger has so many healing properties, it’s often cited as a preventative measure and/or cure for almost anything; from Bowel Cancer to fighting the common cold.

The following site offers a concise and easy to understand outline of all the properties and benefits of ginger:

http://www.nutrasanus.com/ginger.html

As an added bonus, I’ll share my grandma’s recipe for delicious ginger tea, the perfect balance between zing, citrus and sweet and will keep you going all winter long. It’s best consumed within an hour of boiling, but you can bottle leftovers and save for later. So pack it into your flask and go herbal on the morning commute!

2-4 thin slices of fresh ginger per person
Lime or lemon (dependent on personal taste)
Honey or Agave Nectar
Green Cardamom pods
Fennel Seeds

Grind the Cardamom pods and fennel seeds and add them with the ginger into a pan. Bring to the boil.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes, allowing the ginger to yield its goodness.
As you turn off the heat squeeze in as much lemon/lime juice you can bear. You want it tangy but not too bitter.
If using agave, sweeten to taste.
Ideally honey will be consumed alongside the tea.  The chemical make up of honey breaks down when you add it to hot water rendering it useless, therefore, pour out a teaspoon and let it trickle down your throat slowly as you take sips of tea.

The taste of ginger actually works really well with alcohol, so I’ve got a special treat for you (see I’m not all finger wagging and humbug) check out these fabulous ginger cocktail recipes, perfect for not only getting your daily dose of the good stuff but also showing off to friends and family during the Holidays.

All I’ve got left to say is, enjoy the festive season, take it easy on the treats and most of all, get some rest in between all the parties..black bags under the eyes have never been a fashion accessory. Oh and if you’re stuck for gift ideas, there’s always the Breathing Relief’s nasal dilator.

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