The festive period is upon us – and it is declaring war on your body. We asked experts to show you how to fight back and still let you eat, drink and be merry
The problems people face over Christmas are legion. Whether it’s family arguments or an ailing bank balance, it can be a minefield. We can’t help with those issues. Sorry. But we can help with some others – this expert advice will make you feel better and allow you to have a very merry Christmas.
1. Hangovers ruin my Christmas day
The smell of sprouts, Wizzard on repeat, excitable children – Christmas Day can be testing for the sober, but hell for the hungover. However, there are ways to avoid the pain.
“To prevent a hangover, eat some oily fish such as salmon before drinking, as it contains healthy fatty acids,” advises Geraldine Leventis, founder of Raoul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen. “The fat slows alcohol absorption.”
Forward planning not an option? “Combat dehydration with coconut water – its natural rehydration salts are great before sleep,” says nutritionist Libby Limon. “Have a snack before bed,” adds nutritionist Alice Mackintosh, “even just some hummus with ham or turkey will keep blood sugar balanced overnight.”
2. I can’t turn down desserts
Declining dessert with a “No, thank you” is scientifically impossible after 1 December, but wiser choices can minimise the damage.
“Most Christmas cakes have good levels of fibre and nutrients due to the spices and fruits,” says Mackintosh. “Go for homemade, as they often have less sugar. Chocolate mousse contains some protein owing to the egg white, so it has a lower GI than most desserts.”
“Dark chocolate is great as it contains magnesium and can act as a mood elevator,” adds James Duigan, creator of Bodyism.
3. I never say no to a Christmas drink
If you’re disciplined enough to forgo booze, then more power to you. But if not, don’t worry – after all, even Santa has a few glasses of sherry.
“Mulled wine has large quantities of sugar, so go for regular red wine, champagne or white spirits with a mixer,” says Mackintosh. “If you fancy a manly cocktail, go for an old fashioned or a Tom Collins, both of which contain less sugar than most others.”
4. I can’t stop eating unhealthy treats
Buckets of Quality Street, Pringles everywhere. Festive snacks are easy to eat mindlessly, unless you have a plan.
“Nuts, especially almonds, boost the immune system, plus they’re full of stress-reducing B vitamins, and keep you fuller for longer,” says Duigan.
“Don’t skip meals – eat three regular meals with healthy snacks between,” adds James Miller, nutritionist and food consultant at Healthy Food Solutions. “Lunch should be your largest meal, and your evening meal should be light-to-moderate – and not too late. This will keep your blood sugar levels constant.”
5. My body needs extra help
Sometimes the festive season just gets too much, but luckily there are supplements out there to help…
“Milk thistle, turmeric [curcumin] and green tea are super for liver support,” suggests Limon of natural aids. For something more specifically formulated, there’s Napiers Hangover Hotchpotch: “It contains milk thistle, as well as dandelion and gentian to help relieve sickness,” says Mackintosh. “If you’re into smoothies, I recommend adding ProGreens Powder, as it supports your liver and immune system – excellent if you have had to substitute fruit and vegetables for canapés.”