Friday 21 October 2016

Doctor's Orders: Booze, family and way too much food: a Christmas survival guide

As the festive season creeps up on us again, a few last-minute suggestions might help you cope

Dr Ciara Kelly

Published 21/12/2015 | 02:30

THE TRIMMINGS: Rich food is a seasonal pleasure, but beware the effects of overdoing it. Photo: Depositphotos
THE TRIMMINGS: Rich food is a seasonal pleasure, but beware the effects of overdoing it. Photo: Depositphotos

Five days to go. How did that happen? Christmas creeps up on me every year. But we are at the countdown stage now, and so a few last-minute doctor's orders may be of use. Now, if only I would learn to follow my own advice, things might be different chez Kelly.

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The three main things that Christmas consists of is too much food, drink and family. So let's take a quick look at how to cope with all of that.

I have no problem with people indulging themselves foodwise at Christmas - in fact I think it's part of the enjoyment of the season. The only thing I see as a problem is if you do pile on the obligatory half a stone over the holiday but never take it off.

Weight put on over a short space of time comes off easily. But if you don't do anything to address it come the New Year it most certainly does stay - and is often added to the other half a stone you put on on your holidays and the other half stone you meant to shift after a few things came up and you hurt your knee and gave up walking. Yes, I do know exactly what you're like.

The other thing that can happen from over-eating is nausea, from too much rich food, and, very commonly, constipation, from too much volume. I often see people coming in over Christmas thinking they have appendicitis only for me to give them a laxative. So having a few OTC meds such as Motilium, Nexium, Gaviscon and Duphalac in the cupboard is good forward planning.

The other thing that happens a lot over Christmas is food poisoning. There are lots of reasons for that, but it's mainly because we cook too much food and can't get through it all, therefore it hangs around the kitchen and our 'waste not, want not' instinct kicks in. So we continue to eat the turkey six days after we cooked it despite the fact that it was too big to fit in the fridge, was never chilled, and the cats have had a go at it.

All meat should be refrigerated after cooking and consumed within three days of cooking - and that includes turkey and ham. Plus make sure to keep cooked and raw meat separate in the fridge.

Booze is consumed with abandon over the festive days, and dehydration, sick stomachs, hangovers and drunken rows are some of the more unpleasant consequences. Again OTC meds such as Alka Seltzer can help your stomach, and paracetamol is good for the headaches (but no tablets will sort out the family fight). Drink water with dinner as well as any alcohol you consume, drink lots of it before bed - and plenty the next day, too. A good cure is a Coke float (but don't say I told you that). It is of course worth noting that large volumes of alcohol rarely improve your festive cheer, but I'll leave that there.

Lastly, even though we all like the idea of seeing lots of our family at Christmas, in practice it can be more fraught than the movies suggest. Being cooped up for days with your boorish brother-in-law can be trickier than you remembered. But Christmas comes just once a year, doesn't last long - and biting your tongue is something you'll never regret. Concentrate on what you have in common rather than what irritates you about them and, when all else fails, stick on Die Hard and fall asleep.


Sunday Independent

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