The stress leading up to Christmas – and all that food and drink - can quickly cause headaches. Rather than popping painkillers to get you through the party season, think ahead and take precautions
Avoid tummy troubles
Festive food may be traditional, delicious and decidedly moreish - but it can be tough on the digestive system.
Indigestion, or dyspepsia, is a range of problems in the gastro-intestinal system. The most common symptom is pain in the upper abdomen after eating. This can be mild or severe, stabbing or general soreness.
Some people have reflux, where acidic stomach contents come back up into the gullet, causing a burning sensation (heartburn). Other charming symptoms include bloating, wind and belching!
Indigestion can be caused by overindulging on rich Christmas food, which leads to swelling of the stomach and inflammation of the gut lining. Smoking, stress and excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption all cause indigestion too.
To avoid pain, eat small portions and don’t rush meals. Keep fried, fatty and spicy food to a minimum. Gentle exercise can help things along too. Certain medicines, such as aspirin, can irritate the gut.
For immediate relief, try antacid medicines to neutralise stomach acid and form a protective layer over the stomach lining. If indigestion persists, talk to your doctor, who can check for a stomach ulcer or other causes.
Bunged up and bloated
If the festive season leaves you feeling bloated, follow this advice to nurse your stomach back to good health:
Bloating can be caused by constipation, but don’t worry, this is quite common around Christmas time. Your system is bound to get a little sluggish as a result of increased alcohol intake, eating lots of rich food, and generally doing less exercise.
Drink lots of liquids (apple juice and prune juice are very good) and eat bananas or apple with the peel on to increase your fibre intake. If the bloating persists, have a check-up with your GP in the New Year.
Finding must-have gifts on a tight budget can cause unwanted stress.
Dealing with pressure at Christmas requires a three-step approach: Firstly, don’t try and do it all on your own - ask for help. Secondly, take time out every hour to sit back and relax with a magazine, a cup of camomile tea, or some music, for example. Finally, have realistic expectations. Don’t expect Christmas to be perfect, because it rarely is, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time.
Chocolate and sweets come in abundance at Christmas and children will probably end up gorging on them. If you don’t want poorly kids on your hands, do your best to limit and supervise what they eat.
Place sweets and nibbles in a place where your child can’t reach. That way you’re in control and they won’t be able to go behind your back and sneak a handful. And remember out of sight is also out of mind
You could also try putting out plates of fruit for them to snack on too.
Feeling like a bear with a sore head? Try these morning-after miracles...
When you wake up in the morning with that fuzzy feeling, grab a glass of water. Alcohol dehydrates the body so you need to replace that by drinking lots of H2O. Even better, have a glass in between every alcoholic drink the night before.
Sadly, a hair of the dog will not make you feel much better. Opt for orange juice instead. The vitamin C will do you far more good.
You wouldn’t go near the prickly bush usually, but a couple of milk thistle capsules could get rid of that hangover, and anything’s better than a thumping head. Milk thistle helps to support the liver as it tries to process the alcohol.
Eating a greasy breakfast may work - but only if you can stomach it. Better to have some plain toast. This is less likely to further upset your stomach.
Artichoke is another natural remedy, much like milk thistle, that is thought to help the liver to function properly again. So stock up on it for after a big night out.
Eat crystallised ginger in biscuits or drink ginger tea to relieve nausea.
Add a few drops of peppermint oil to some olive oil and massage gently into your temples to relieve a headache.