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Drink smart over the festive period

#BrainFood nutritionist Yvonne McMeel offers her top tips on how to avoid a hangover this Christmas

by Ali Roff

drinking at Christmas

‘Coupled with excess eating, heavy drinking over the festive period can put great strain on you body. Setting the intention for a healthier festive season will do wonders for your health and wellbeing,’ explains Brain Food nutritionist Yvonne McMeel

Here are Yvonne’s top tips for on how to make sure you won't overdo it this Christmas.

  1. Set your intention before you go out, whether you want or don’t want to drink alcohol and visualise this happening beforehand, it’ll help strengthen resolve. Make sure you chat and mingle but avoid standing right beside the bar or holding your glass while you’re talking, a good conversation can distract you from drinking too much.
  2. If you are going to a private party, bring your own non-alcoholic  drink, sparkling water with a drop of elderflower juice is a nice, refreshing, low-sugar alternative and will help to make sure you don’t get caught out. Also be mindful of what you are drinking; allow your glass to empty before being refilled by a generous host.
  3. Make water the first drink you order to avoid using alcohol as a way of quenching thirst. From then on alternate every alcoholic drink with water – it will help keep you hydrated and flush out the toxins through the kidneys, preventing the symptoms of a hangover.
  4. Give yourself at least two to three rest days in between drinking to allow your liver and body to detoxify and recuperate.
  5. Prevention is better than cure. Stick to a heavier meal before you drink instead of assuming a fry-up the next day will make you feel better. Although many people swear by them, there is actually no scientific evidence that such a breakfast will help and generally greasy food will just give you heartburn. Up your system’s support by taking an all-round multivitamin and mineral supplement.
  6. Avoid coffee the morning after; this will only help to dehydrate you even more as it is a diuretic. It is also a vasoconstrictor, which is a substance that causes blood cells to swell, so a morning coffee will only worsen a headache. Instead replace it with a freshly made vegetable juice containing celery, cucumber and spinach to help restore balance and replace lost electrolytes. 
  7. Dilute your alcoholic drinks – a white wine spritzer of half wine and half soda water is a great calorie-reducer; you could save yourself about 100kcals per glass. Choose your cocktails carefully too. Opt for low-calorie cocktails where you can, such as a Cosmopolitan, which has about 99 calories, and swap traditional Eggnog (which contains over 300 calories) for a snowball cocktail – it has almost a third fewer than that. Also, beware of creamy liqueurs and cocktails, swap them for a glass of mulled wine or sherry for an instant calorie reduction.

More inspiration:

Read Set the tone for 2015 with the right pre-holiday habits by Susanna Halonen on LifeLabs

Photograph: iStock

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