The Vital Nutrition guide to surviving the office Christmas party

The Christmas party season is in full swing. It’s time to let your hair down, celebrate the festive season with friends and colleagues and eat until you pop.

Overindulgence of rich, sugary foods and a little more alcohol than normal can leave us feeling the worse for the wear. If you are hitting the town with your team this week, then I have a few ideas to help you enjoy the celebrations without the dreaded next-day hangover.

:: Pace your booze:

If you are drinking alcohol, then alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water (still or sparkling), or dilute it – have a white wine spritzer with soda water to reduce the risk of feeling hungover tomorrow. It can be easy to drink more than you normally would at this time of year, so it might be a good idea to set yourself a limit of how much you are prepared to drink before you go out to reduce the risk of going over the top.

:: Keep well hydrated:

Dehydration can leave us feeling fatigued and fuzzy headed, so have a great big glass of water before you head out and sip some water between courses.

:: Don’t forget to eat:

Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is a sure-fire way to get drunk very quickly, with the dreaded after effects. Eating something nourishing before you hit the town also means you are less likely to succumb to a dozen mini-sausage rolls, and more likely to choose a slightly healthier canape.

:: Don’t skip meals during the day if you’re eating out later:

If you go to the party feeling hungry, chances are you are more likely to overindulge in less-than-healthy snacks. Instead, eat a lighter meal at lunchtime and a healthy snack like fruit with natural yoghurt, or a handful of nuts to keep you going through the afternoon.

:: Choose well from the menu:

If you are booked into a restaurant for food, then choosing something tasty and nourishing provides damage limitation for weight gain. Go easy on the carbs, pass on the bread basket and replace your side order of spuds or chips for some extra veggies. If the vegetable side order includes broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower, then go for it – these super healthy cruciferous vegetables help support liver health and detoxification. Pair up with some good-quality protein to keep your energy levels up.

If you tend to feel heavy and bloated after a big meal, then cutting back on bread and pasta could help you beat the bloat.

Choose a starter and main course instead of dessert, to help keep you well fuelled without the sugar crash after a sweet dessert. A starter of soup, salad, fish cakes or melon is a good start. For main course, fish is usually a winner if you like it.

:: Look after your liver:

Overindulgence of rich food and a little more booze than normal can mean your liver is working hard. Some people swear by milk thistle as a simple liver support supplement to take a few days before and after a night out.

:: Get up and at it:

The morning after the night before, get up early, get outside in the fresh air and take some gentle exercise to help clear your head and leave you feeling a little more energised. A healthy breakfast of eggs will provide your body with an amino acid called N-acetyl cysteine, one of the building blocks of a potent antioxidant called glutathione, which is key for supporting liver detoxification. Pair with some smoked salmon, grilled tomatoes, spinach and avocado for a nourishing and replenishing breakfast.

Eat, drink and be merry. Have a great party!

This blog post first appeared as my column in The Irish News on Saturday 8 December 2018.