Susannah Taylor: Here’s to a healthier Christmas

I’m going to be indulging in the mince pies and cocktails like the next person this Christmas. But is there a way to emerge from the festive season and not feel like you’ve been hit by a truck? Or that you’ve splurged but haven’t gained a stone or put your liver through the wringer? According to the wellness experts, yes. Here are their damage limitation tips to ensure you enjoy yourself and stay healthy…

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Ditch the sugary drinks

‘Stay away from sweet mixers and juices,’ says nutritional therapist Gabriela Peacock, as these aren’t great for your waistline or mood. ‘Go for wine, champagne and spirits with low calorie or soda water mixers.’ One of my personal favourites is twelvebelow.co.uk, which creates low-sugar mixers with just 12 calories per 100ml.

Try post-party protein

While most of us reach for toast and pastries the morning after, it’s actually protein rather than carbs that makes us feel better. Gabriela says: ‘Your body doesn’t need carbs even though you crave them. Have a good breakfast that includes a nutritious source of protein such as eggs or salmon. There is nothing wrong with good quality bread, but protein gets broken into amino acids and liver detoxification is dependent on these.’ And on your night out, if you can manage a glass of water per alcoholic drink it will fool your body into drinking less, recommends Gabriela.

Manage your meals

There is nothing wrong with skipping a few meals when you’ve overindulged. You may have had a huge breakfast followed by a three-course lunch, but you don’t have to eat dinner. Gabriela also suggests replacing a few meals with a light turkey broth to avoid next-day sluggishness.

Boost your digestion

‘Bloating, cramps, flatulence, diarrhoea and/or constipation are  signs the spleen and liver are not in balance,’ says Chinese medicine practitioner Emilia Herting, co-founder of Escapada Health. ‘A cooked breakfast with warm cereals and stewed fruits is a crucial meal to boost your metabolism.’ Something small will do if you’re not hungry.

Keep moving

Personal trainer Matt Roberts is a huge advocate of getting off the sofa, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing. A 30-minute walk at speed after a fatty meal eliminates a high portion of the elevated fat lipids in your blood, reducing your likelihood of gaining weight significantly,’ he says.

Eat bitter foods

Bitter substances aid digestion of fats, says Emilia, who advises a side dish of chicory, radicchio and rocket salad to help ‘digest dietary fats’.

Stay happy and bright

‘Sitting inside in the dark promotes the sleep hormone melatonin at the wrong time of day,’ says Matt. ‘Exercise helps regulate this and reduces the lethargy that can often set in over Christmas. So get off your butt, move and let your happy hormones do the rest.’

Sleep in heavenly peace

When we stop, our immune system can drop which can cause us to get sick over Christmas. Late nights don’t help – a bad night’s sleep can reduce our immunity by 60 per cent. Maeve O’Sullivan at Escapada Health says, ‘Lack of sleep decreases the activity of T-cells [a crucial type of immune cell]. Aim for seven to eight hours.’

Why not dip into this?

The Art of Wild Swimming (England & Wales) by Anna Deacon and Vicky Allan (£14.99*) is the perfect stocking filler for a wild swimmer. Not only does it go into detail on the best spots to swim in England and Wales, but also provides tips on swimming safely in rivers, seas and reservoirs, managing the cold and safety advice.

*To order a copy for £12.74 until 26 December, go to books.mailshop.co.uk or call 020 3176 2937. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.

Layer up… with bamboo

One of my most used items of sports clothing in winter is this base layer top from Bamboo Clothing (£44, bambooclothing.co.uk) – a thin but warm, stretchy and breathable top you can wear to run in or warm up in a cold yoga hall. Made from bamboo, it is also supremely soft against the skin.