As a nation we make no secret of the fact that most of us tend to overindulge during the winter months. Whether it’s the cooler weather that makes us reach for the comfort food or the sheer abundance of sweet treats that the season brings, each of us has our reasons for letting loose with the calories – and letting our belts out a notch as a result.

Of course, treating yourself to something naughty every now and again during the festive season is not going to harm our health a great deal. Yet for those who struggle with their weight or with food intolerances can find it to be a tricky time of year.

Away from food and drink there are also a number of other precautions you should take to ensure that this Christmas is a healthy one and not a horrible one.

Keep your alcohol consumption in mind

It may be the time to eat, drink and be merry but sustained drinking between Christmas and New Year can both increase your calorie intake dramatically and put additional strain on your organs. Our advice is to enjoy a drink within moderation but be sensible about the rate of consumption.

Avoid skipping meals as this will cause you to get drunk quicker and miss out on valuable nutrients. If you wish to avoid a fuzzy head in the morning, try to stick to one type of drink rather than mixing wine, beer and spirits. Opting for a lighter coloured drink where possible is helpful, as these tend to be lower in hangover-worsening chemical ingredients.

Whether you are drinking or not, staying hydrated over the Christmas period is also crucially important. Try to alternate between alcoholic drinks and soft drinks whenever possible. This simple step can help prevent hangovers from bringing a painful end to your merriment.

Always eat breakfast

While it can be tempting to skip breakfast on Christmas morning in favour of opening your presents, eating breakfast will not only set you up for the celebrations ahead but help prevent overeating later on in the day. A hearty yet healthy breakfast is advisable, with porridge the superstar in comparison to other options. Porridge will stabilise your blood sugar levels, while adding a dollop of yoghurt will boost immunity.

Reach for the remedies

This time of year can be hard on the stomach with alcohol and the overconsumption of food exacerbating acid reflux in particular. If you are particularly susceptible to this common problem, we stock medications such as Omeprazole, Lansoprazole and Losec at Express Pharmacy to help treat the condition and keep you feeling well this winter.

Cook your meat well

Giving your loved ones the unwanted gift of food poisoning is certainly something to avoid this December. Unfortunately, the festive season is a peak time for food poisoning, with an undercooked Christmas lunch acting as the catalyst for several strains of harmful bacteria and some very nasty side effects.

Exercising high standards of food safety this Christmas is vital to ensuring celebrations go off without a hitch. If you are purchasing a frozen bird as the centrepiece of your feast, allowing plenty of time for it to defrost is the place to start.

The rule of thumb for defrosting is to allow 12 hours per kilogram when defrosting in the fridge, and 7 hours per kilo when defrosting in a cool room. Once the bird has been properly defrosted, it must be cooked well. It is recommended that birds are roasted for 40 minutes per kilogram at 190oC. Always double check that your turkey is cooked correctly before serving, the easiest way to do this is to part the skin between the breast and leg, if this area is pink then further cooking is required. The juices from the turkey should also run clear rather than pink.

Travel carefully during bad weather

The roads are notoriously dangerous during the autumn and winter months, with snow, ice, rain and dazzling sunlight all heightening risk for drivers. If you have to set foot outside during the winter period – like getting to a Christmas party or family gathering, be sure to allow more time so that you can exercise caution on the road. It also goes without saying that you should never consume large quantities of alcohol before getting behind the wheel – including driving early in the morning after a big night out the evening before.