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How to stay healthy over Christmas


News day / Start with breakfast If you’re going out in the evening, start the day with a generous bowl of porridge, topped with a handful of cranberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Porridge stabilises blood sugar levels, which helps control appetite later in the day.

You can also add a good dollop of probiotic yogurt, which helps boost immunity as well as combat some of the less beneficial effects of the party season, like too much alcohol and not enough sleep.

Stay hydrated On the day of a big night out, and the day after, make a conscious effort to drink six to eight glasses of water, or plenty of herbal teas or diluted juice. Even mild dehydration can lead to a headache and combined with the diuretic effects of alcohol makes maintaining your fluid intake so important.

Regular teas and coffee count towards your fluid intake, but caffeinated versions shouldn’t make up your full quota. If you struggle to drink enough when it’s cold, take a full glass of water to bed at night and start the day with a second.

Sensible snacking If you’re hungry when you arrive at a party, you might struggle to resist the canapés, so have a pre-party snack.

One favourite is a small pot of plain yogurt with a sliced banana. The yogurt’s protein slows stomach emptying, which helps delay the effects of that first glass of wine while the potassium- rich banana helps balance any increase in salt intake – especially helpful if you’re going to be nibbling on olives, crisps or salted nuts.

You are better off eating before going to a party because you’re more likely to skip the canapés when they come round a second or third time. Other snacks which do the trick include granary toast with nut butter, a bowl of muesli with milk, or a mug of chunky vegetable soup.

Back away from the buffet Buffets can be a disaster zone – so make sure to fill half your plate with salad and vegetables, and the rest with protein-based canapés like salmon and chicken. Take your time selecting and eating food and move away from the table as soon as your plate is full to avoid non-stop grazing.

No more hangovers Don’t be tempted to skip meals so you can stockpile calories for drinking. Alcohol only supplies empty calories, so avoiding proper meals to compensate for a booze splurge means you’re losing out on valuable nutrients, just when your body needs them to help it detoxify.

Stick to one type of drink and make it a lighter-coloured one because they tend to be lower in the chemical by-products that can worsen a hangover.

Aim to have no more than one alcoholic drink an hour, alternated with juice, water or soft drinks – perfect if you don’t like holding an empty glass.

What to eat the next morning One of the best “morning after” breakfast is a frittata or omelette packed with vegetables. Choose mushrooms for their energising B vitamins, tomatoes for vitamin C and onions for their liver-friendly sulphur compounds. If you have spinach at hand add a generous handful because it’s a great source of folate which helps the body repair DNA.

Eggs are an excellent choice for the morning after because they provide choline, a nutrient that supports the liver. Add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or a chopped chilli to boost circulation and rev up your recovery. If you can’t face a cooked breakfast then have a smoothie made with fruits like bananas, oranges or kiwi – these are rich in potassium which helps replenish the electrolytes lost due to the diuretic effects of alcohol..

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