Gird your loins, people (perhaps literally) – the season of unchecked piggery has arrived. That’s right, we’re heading into the one month of the year when you can indulge freely in all manner of dietary sins and no one – not even those irksome nutritionists who appear on Lorraine to guilt trip you over your cornflakes – is going to scold you.
Mulled wine, bubbles, those chocolate coins that taste like cardboard but you eat them anyway because they’re there – nothing is off limits at Christmas time.
Here’s where we get to the “But” (you knew it was coming). Joyous as cutting loose and indulging over the festive season is, the hangover in the New Year can be rather painful if you haven’t taken a few simple steps to limit the fallout.
Sensible folk (ie, those irksome nutritionists) would advise a measured approach to alcohol consumption, but if the idea of a sober family Christmas brings you out in a cold sweat, here are our top tips for staying healthy(ish) this party season.
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1) Drink lots of water
Hardly groundbreaking nutritional advice, but the simple fact is increasing your intake of H2O is the easiest and cheapest way to improve your health.
One of its many benefits is boosting energy levels, which is why it’s especially important to stay hydrated over Christmas, when many of us will indulge in a tipple or ten (thousand). You all know the drill – aim to drink at least 1.5 litres a day, more if you’re imbibing other, less hydrating, liquids.
2) Stock up on Berocca
From personal experience, these refreshing effervescent hits of vitamins B, C and essential minerals are a must when hungover. They help the body to release energy throughout the day and support a healthy immune system. For an added boost, Boots does an alternative that contains guarana, an Amazonian plant extract containing caffeine. Just don’t rely on it year-round.
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3) Get juicing
They’re a hassle to make when rushing out to work in the morning, and can be expensive to buy, but fresh juices are positively bursting with goodness.
The essential vitamins and minerals found in fruit and vegetables are better for you in their raw state, which is why getting into a habit of juicing is one of the smartest lifestyle choices you can make to stay in tip-top condition. If you’re facing a hectic social calendar these next few weeks, plump for an energy-boosting and infection-fighting combination of carrot, apple, celery and ginger, with added ginseng to keep your immune system in check.
4) Milk thistle
This prickly little herb has been used medicinally for thousands of years, so it’s obviously doing something right. Its seeds contain antioxidant compounds called silymarin, which increase the liver’s ability to regenerate, and inhibit toxins from entering its cells. Milk thistle is also used to treat the symptoms of over-indulgence. An essential stocking filler for revellers.
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5) Eat Brussels sprouts
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Brussels sprouts contain the phytonutrients (that’s the natural chemicals found in plant foods, to you and me) DIM and 13C, which help your liver metabolise more effectively.
Also opt for foods rich in potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron, which are vital for keeping energy levels high. Super foods include brown rice, bananas, oats, broccoli, spinach, lentils, apricots, walnuts and almonds. Slow-releasing carbohydrates such as chickpeas, baked beans and grainy bread are good for keeping energy levels stable.
Of course, coffee and Red Bull will also see you through the next four weeks but your body won’t thank you for it come January. Stick to these suggestions for a fun-filled party season without the pain. Now, where’s that tin of Quality Street?