Wellness Tips

How health experts stay healthy at Christmas with the wellness tips that only insiders know

From calorie-saving tips to raised booze picks and beating festive stress, we requested a panel of health professionals to share their insider secrets and techniques on staying nicely all social gathering season.

Just say no

Pablo Vandenabeele, medical director for psychological health at Bupa

“You can easily end up burnt out over the holiday season. For me, an important part of staying healthy over Christmas is saying no to some invitations. I try to balance the Christmas commitments that mean the most to me with the need to rest.”

Stick to a favorite drink

Pablo Vandenabeele

Fiona Kirk

Fiona Kirk, nutritionist and writer

“Cocktails, creamy liqueurs and mixers can often be loaded with extra calories. Therefore, on party days I always choose one tipple such as dry white wine or prosecco and stick to it, alternating every drink with water. And my liver and waistline thank me!”

Double your walks

Jonathan Wright

Jonathan Wright, private coach

“You have to let your hair down and enjoy yourself at Christmas. So instead of kidding myself I’m going to spend hours at the gym, my trick is to walk the dog for 40 minutes rather than 20, twice a day.

“Just doubling up your daily walking time will help counteract all those extra calories. I also have a Berocca every morning throughout December to boost my immune system and energy levels.” (£four.89, from Boots).

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Have a household display break

Jon Ross

Mr Jonathan Ross, advisor ophthalmic surgeon

“It’s difficult to get the kids away from the smartphones, and my wife and I are equally as reliant! But it’s important for our mental health – as well as our eye health – to switch off from technology sometimes and Christmas is the perfect opportunity to do that.

“We have a four-day ban from Christmas Eve until December 28 – and play board games, do jigsaws and talk to each other instead. It’s amazing the difference it makes.”

Keep sniffles at bay

Dr Dick Middleton

Dr Dick Middleton, pharmacist and chairman of the British Herbal Medicine Association

“Avoiding the sniffles over the festive season could be robust, however a nasty chilly will quickly spoil the enjoyable. I take the natural treatment pelargonium at the first signal of a sore throat or runny nostril and discover it actually helps.” Try Kaloba Pelargonium Cough & Cold Relief (£6.19 from Holland & Barrett).

Stand to wrap

Sammy Margo

Sammy Margo, physiotherapist

“I never sit on the floor to wrap presents as this often ends up with poor posture such as hunched shoulders and a twisted back. Instead, I set up a standing wrapping station on an ironing board set at belly button height.”

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Massage drained eyes

Danielle Collins

Danielle Collins, facial yoga skilled

“Lack of sleep post-party can leave my under-eyes dark and puffy. To combat this and to remove excess fluid from around the eyes, I do the following exercise: Using the index finger, gently tap around the eye area twice each way. Then with a feather-light touch stroke under the eyes, moving outwards three times, making sure you don’t drag your finger on the skin.”

Ease into exercise

Duncan Tennent

Mr Duncan Tennent, advisor orthopaedic surgeon at Spire St Anthony’s Hospital

“I see many patients with new sporting injuries after Christmas. So although I always want to work off that festive excess come New Year, I’m careful to start slowly and surely with exercise, rather than hitting the gym at a furious pace.”

Use a moisture-rich cleanser

Dr Anton Alexandroff

Dr Anton Alexandroff, advisor dermatologist at BMI The Manor Hospital, Beds

“Chilly seasonal climate is notoriously dangerous for inflicting dry pores and skin, so ditch soaps, bathe gels and bubble baths that can exacerbate pores and skin cracking, and say good day to moisturizing cleansers. My favorite mild cleaning soap substitutes are Oilatum Shower Gel for Eczema (£10.19, from Boots) and Aveeno Body Wash (£9.89, from Boots).”

Sip water all day

Luke Thronten

Luke Thornton, private coach at discount-supplements.co.uk

“Staying hydrated might seem like a cliche but it’s even more important at Christmas. Dehydration triggered by alcohol and stuffy central heating can lead to fatigue, headaches and even the mistaken feeling of hunger leading you to snack more – dangerous with all that chocolate lying around!

“I drink a tall glass of water just before bed and carry a water bottle with me to sip at all times.”

Take some deep breaths

Neil Shah

Neil Shah, chief de-stressing officer from the Stress Management Society

“If I discover myself letting every part get on prime of me at Christmas, in addition to utilizing a couple of drops of calming Rescue Remedy (£6.99, from Boots), I discover this easy respiration method helps me loosen up:

 Sit or stand in a relaxed place

 Slowly inhale via your nostril, counting to 5

 Let the air out out of your mouth, counting to eight

 Repeat a number of occasions.

Pop an antacid

Niamh McMillan

Niamh McMillan, pharmacist

“It’s so easy to overindulge at Christmas with all the yummy food around. To ease heartburn I stock up on antacids such as Superdrug’s Indigestion Relief Tablets (£2.99) to help relive my symptoms.”

Eat extra slowly

Dr Neil Galletly

Dr Neil Galletly, marketing consultant gastroenterologist from Spire St Anthony’s Hospital, Surrey

“To look after my gut health I eat slowly and avoid foods I know upset my digestion, and make time to use the toilet. This may sound obvious but people
forget to slow down during the frantic festive period.”

Swap to candy potato

Suzie Sawyer

Suzie Sawyer, nutritionist

“It’s hard not to pile up your plate in the holidays, but Christmas foods tend to be fattier and richer than your normal diet. One seasonal healthy food swap I make is sweet potatoes in place of white potatoes. They’re packed with vitamin A, beta-carotene and fibre, and another advantage is they roast really well.”

De-stress with herbs

Dr David Edwards

Dr David Edwards, GP

“I find the herb rhodiola can take the edge off stress in the run up to Christmas. Extracts of this plant have been used traditionally to treat stress for many years, with recent research confirming it can ease irritability, fatigue and tension”.

Try Vitano Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract (£13.99, from Boots).

Schedule some early nights

Mark Cropley

Professor Mark Cropley, professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey

“Christmas often means too little sleep and before you know it, you’re running on empty. I always schedule in a couple of early nights each week in December – right up until Christmas Day.”

Keep a grip with winter footwear

Kumar Kunisingham

Mr Kumar Kunasingam, orthopaedic surgeon

“Come December I swap my smooth soled work shoes for thicker soles with better grip to avoid slipping on wet leaves and ice. I also take shorter step lengths and broaden where my feet are on the ground to add stability and prevent slipping – especially when trying to round up the kids during the post-lunch walk!”

Prevent household rows

Lucy Atkinson

Lucy Atkinson, life coach

“I love Christmas, but hate the family conflict that often goes with it, so over the years I’ve learnt ways to avoid it. For example, some family members insist on giving me unhelpful and unwanted advice. But instead of arguing about it, now I just smile and say: ‘Thanks for your opinion’. Then I completely ignore it and carry on living my life the way I want to!”

Make plans collectively

Dr Rafael Euba

Dr Rafael Euba, advisor psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre

“I remind myself that real happiness isn’t going to come out of a box under the Christmas tree.

“So instead of focusing on presents, I try to maximise the time I spend with my loved ones and make plans for the coming year, such as arranging trips, shows or activities.

“Having events to look forward to also helps us feel festive for longer.”

Brush off delicate tooth

Frances Carling-Thom

Frances Carling-Thom, dentist at Dental Smiles Clinic, London

“Christmas foods and cold winter weather can trigger tooth sensitivity, so I use a specialist toothpaste such as Sensodyne Rapid Relief (£4.50, Boots) to ensure a pain-free party season.”

Choose white spirits over darkish

Mike McGinty

Mike McGinty, award-winning head barman at The Voyage of Buck, Edinburgh

“A very good lesson I’ve learnt is to stay away from darkish spirits as the tannins have an effect on hydration ranges and can make a hangover worse. So in case you’re having cocktails, stick with these containing mild spirits comparable to gin or vodka or white rum.”

Plan for peace

Chloe Brotheridge

Chloe Brotheridge, writer of The Anxiety Solution

“To manage anxiety levels, I make sure I carve out some alone time over Christmas – in amongst all the get-togethers. I let others know that I’m recharging and take myself away for some much-needed peace and quiet.”

Start the day with a smoothie

Rick Hay

Rick Hay, nutritionist

“I have a smoothie every morning in December with a scoop of plant-based protein powder – this could be spinach, banana, date and almond milk for example. This nutrient dense breakfast helps me to stay fuller for longer and is a good metabolism kick-starter. It also helps to regulate my blood sugar levels as it’s high in fibre, helping reduce food cravings.”

Don’t on-line store earlier than mattress

Jay Brewer

Jay Brewer, head of medical wellbeing for Nuffield Health

“It’s tempting to get online Christmas shopping done in bed to save time, but this can wreak havoc with seasonal sleep, as the blue light emitted from phones and tablets has been shown to have a negative effect on sleep quality. I avoid screens for an hour before bed.”

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Christmas Dinner 2017

Load up the sprouts!

Emma Cockrell

Emma Cockrell, dietary therapist

“Despite altering food developments, I persist with cooking turkey on the massive day, because it’s a leaner meat than duck or goose. I additionally swap out the ‘bad fats’ in pigs-in-blankets for extra veg – particularly brussels sprouts that are one in every of the healthiest elements of Christmas dinner , being packed with fibre and nutritional vitamins C and Okay.


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