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Enjoy the Christmas cheer without having a hangover

Four more days til the festive tunes can be played and I have never counted down so hard to Christmas in all my life!

I am so ready for the lights and the fun and the hope and the joy that comes with this season. I have been firmly told by the kids that we can’t start celebrating until it’s officially December; I feel as if the roles have been reversed somehow and I’m the overexcited one.

I love how Christmas means different things to different people – whether that’s something religious, or simply a celebration of life with the people you love, it adds meaning and rhythm to our year.

If we have to look for downsides, I guess it’s only fair to acknowledge that hangovers and clothes getting a little tight around the middle are a bit of a pain. For me, ditching the hangovers has become hugely important. Obviously I’d like to keep myself as healthy as possible, but also the wasted day afterwards just kills me. It’s such a huge motivator to avoid that. I want to be up and running around with the kids, or doing something else fun. I don’t want to be dealing with a pounding head and daylong nausea. But balance is important too – so if you want to be healthy but are also inclined to party a little too hard, then this is for you.

First off, I’ve given you a recipe for a detox smoothie which I hope you’ll love. It includes banana for B vitamins (which give you energy), avocado and turmeric for liver support, black pepper to improve the absorption of the turmeric, spinach for folate (which supports detox pathways), berries for antioxidants (these mop up free radicals) and a little honey (optional) to sweeten the deal.

Whether or not you had a few too many drinks the night before, this is an amazing way to start your day. Warning: because it contains lots of greens and also berries, this is going to be brown once you have whizzed it all together. Just put it in a big reusable cup that you can’t see through and pretend it’s a beautiful colour. (If you want smoothies that are beautiful colours, check out the Nutrifit smoothies at Miles!)

Secondly, I’ve also given you some hangover management tips. My top tip would be just not to drink alcohol at all but as that won’t work for many of you – especially as the celebrations ramp up – here’s how to manage it all in a healthier way. Any questions, let me know on Facebook or Instagram. See you online!

Christmas Detox Smoothie

Ingredients (per person)

½ frozen banana

1 cup frozen berries

½ ripe avocado

1 large handful spinach

¼ tsp ground turmeric

Twist of black pepper

Honey to taste

Directions: you know this, just whizz it all up!

Hangover management tips:

Avoid drinks with congeners (beware of the “nightcap”)

When ethanol (alcohol) is produced by sugar-fermenting yeasts, other toxic side products called congeners are formed too. Congeners (eg acetone, methanol and isopentanol) seem to increase the frequency and intensity of hangovers, compared to drinks that contain low amounts. Drinks high in congeners include whiskey, cognac and tequila. Bourbon whiskey is exceptionally high. Drinks low in congeners include colourless drinks like vodka, gin and white rum. Vodka contains almost no congeners at all. The only “nightcap” I really do recommend is the non-alcoholic Three Spirit. It’s on the shelves at Miles and the Night Cap blend is a beautiful, sleepy, calming and delicious blend of herbs that you can pour over ice to round off your day.

Watch your mixers

A regular hangover is bad enough, adding a sugar hangover is even worse. Ditch the sugary mixers (soda, fruit punch etc) and especially the coolers that serve up a big dose of food dye too. Just one cooler can pack in 10 to 20 teaspoons of sugar. That’s huge and has serious implications for blood sugar management and weight gain. I would avoid diet options as well, given that these also challenge the liver. Note too that bubbles speed up alcohol absorption, so if you are aiming to pace yourself, pick a still option such as red wine or vodka with water and a splash of orange juice.

Drink plenty of water and try peppermint tea before bed

Alcohol is a diuretic which means you urinate more than if you were drinking an equal amount of pure water. This can lead to dehydration and contribute to headaches and fatigue the next day. Rule of thumb: arrive hydrated and then drink a glass of water between drinks. Have at least one big glass of water before going to sleep. I think peppermint tea is great for settling the stomach, so brew a strong one before you go out and then leave it in the fridge to drink on your return! This is a great antidote to a rich evening meal too.

Balance your blood sugar

Never drink on an empty stomach and note that hangovers tend to be more severe in those who have low or unbalanced blood sugar. Although hypoglycaemia is not a cause of hangovers, it can make symptoms feel worse. If you are just going out for drinks and aren’t having a meal, do eat something before you go that includes slow-releasing carbohydrates and protein. Good examples include low-sugar granola and plain yoghurt, or scrambled eggs on wholegrain toast.

Eggs and avocado for breakfast the morning after

No doubt you have heard of the “kill or cure” fry-up for breakfast. It’s not the saturated fat that’s going to help you, but the amino acids in the protein which can assist liver detox. Eggs are the best choice as they are easily digested and gentle on your stomach. Plus, thanks to their large amounts of cysteine, eggs help to “mop up” alcohol toxins. Whites do contain more protein, but the yolks are cysteine rich so eat both! Avocado is great for phase 2 liver detox, so include that too.

Rehydrate with electrolytes

But put down the Gatorade, which contains way too much sugar and unnecessary food dyes. Try chilled unsweetened coconut water or the Nuun tablets from Miles. I love the Nuun tablets which are now all free from artificial colours and sweeteners. The SOS electrolytes from Sportseller are also excellent.

Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram

It is possible to enjoy the holiday season without suffering from one drink too many, Catherine Burns promises

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Published November 26, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated November 26, 2021 at 7:29 am)

Enjoy the Christmas cheer without having a hangover

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