Everyone loves Christmas and New Year – it's time to reflect on the year gone and the one ahead, catch up with friends and family, the presents, and of course, the parties.
But we all know from bitter experience that over-indulging in alcohol during the festive period can wreak havoc with almost every part of your body.
If you do enjoy a drink at this time of year, there are ways to minimise the damage while also having a great time.
Take a breather
Your liver has an incredible ability to recover if you give it a break, which means the inevitable hangover after your New Year’s party should be much easier to handle. Try marking ‘dry’ days into your calendar in advance so you don’t fall to temptation.
Sipping a soft drink from a wine glass or punch glass can really help you feel like you’re part of the action. Try alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and ask for a smaller glass – ‘regular’ wine glasses these days can hold a third of a bottle of wine, so avoid temptation and a hangover by limiting your intake to small top-ups between chats.
Don’t drink on an empty stomach – the alcohol will enter your bloodstream faster and have more of a hit. If you know you’re about to head to a party or a pub where there’ll be food later, have a healthy snack beforehand – a glass of milk and a tuna sandwich on wholemeal bread, for instance.
Just because it’s cold and dark outside doesn’t mean your usual fitness regime should go out of the window. Even a brisk stroll for 20 minutes before drinking can help your body recharge and push out toxins before you hit the booze.
Consider another alcoholic drink to your usual. Swapping a glass of Riesling for a Sauvignon Blanc cuts out 25 % of the alcohol, for example.
Aspirin or ibuprofen can irritate the stomach, so choose paracetamol and an antacid to settle nausea in the morning. If you’re feeling really rough, try a rehydration treatment sachet to replace lost minerals and salt.
Pop a pill
If you think you need more help reducing your alcohol intake, there are short-term treatments and repeat prescription medicines alike which can help. However, the best thing to do is talk to your GP or online doctor about the best steps you can take to be alcohol-safe over the next couple of weeks.
By Dr Alexandra Phelan
Dr. Phelan is a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U, an online service which provides free, fast and convenient delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions.