Top tips for keeping hale and hearty over the festive season

Tipples from The Wee Dram in Bakewell

Tipples from The Wee Dram in Bakewell - Credit: Archant

It’s the time of year we are at our most social meeting up with family and friends to celebrate Christmas and welcome in the new year. But it’s also a season when we tend to over indulge; eating multi-course meals, nibbling at tasty treats, and drinking more of our favourite tipple than usual. I’ve been asking advice from a range of sources, from a pharmacist to a naturopath, an actress to a whisky retailer, how best to enjoy Christmas and deal with any over-zealous celebrations that may come your way. The advice may surprise you.

The Wee Dram

The Wee Dram - Credit: Archant


is an alternative medicine practitioner, a naturopath, registered osteopath and Centre Director at Belper Natural Health Centre, Chapel Street, Belper

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‘If you want to have a good Christmas the best starting point is to take Vitamin D3 (4,000 international units daily ) from the autumn. This is the best way to prevent getting flu – a virus which will totally ruin your Christmas. You don’t want to be dramatically altering your diet before Christmas because it will make life miserable. It’s a time when you want to be able to eat whatever you want! The best time to change your diet is in January.’ Ian, who generally advocates cutting back on the carbs, instead of cutting out fats, says: ‘Go and see a naturopath in the new year and they will discuss what you eat and advise you what you should be eating to deal with your specific problems.’ He said: ‘In terms of a hangover. The first thing to say is that you should eat before you drink. Never drink on an empty stomach. You should drink plenty of water before you go to bed. The best thing to stop a hangover is a mixture of N-Acetyl Cysteine, commonly called NAC. There is nothing like it to cure hangovers! It is a liver cleansing amino acid, a naturally occurring sulphur-based substance, that can be bought at good health shops. We sell it for about £23 for 60 capsules. My son was at Birmingham University for four years and only had one hangover through that time – which is pretty good going – because he took NAC.‘If you have a lot of alcohol over Christmas eat plenty of foods which cleanse the liver. The best foods to do this are avocados, onions, garlic, lemon zest, brassicas, eggs and walnuts.’ Ian has been practising alternative health care in Belper since 1993 and charges £45 a consultation.

Ian Rumboldt of Belper Natural Health Centre

Ian Rumboldt of Belper Natural Health Centre - Credit: Archant

Lucy Dixon

Television actress Lucy Dixon, best known for her roles in Hollyoaks and Waterloo Road is currently appearing in the title role of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Buxton Opera House (10th December to 1st January)

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Lucy and James preparing for panto at Buxton Opera House

Lucy and James preparing for panto at Buxton Opera House - Credit: Archant

Lucy who lives just outside Stockport, admitted to Derbyshire Life that she gets a bit over-enthusiastic on the food front on Christmas Day. ‘We have a few courses and I’m always so giddy, I get a bit carried away. We have a starter and I can’t help but have some bread, then the main with pigs in blankets which I LOVE so when the desserts are brought out (and we have a few), I’m stuffed. But I feel I can’t miss out and so afterwards all I want is someone to rub my belly! Ha! Ha!’ Lucy, whose favourite Christmas tipple is a Baileys said, ‘After Christmas dinner that’s when the party really starts. But I never get a hangover at Christmas because I’m too busy eating and playing games.’ The actress, who played the role of Danielle Harker in Waterloo Road combats the excesses of Christmas Day with a relaxing Boxing Day. ‘Boxing Day is for me a lazy morning and for walks in the countryside. But not this year though – I’ll be on stage!’


is the owner of The Wee Dram Shop at Bakewell, an independent outlet which sells an exclusive range of whiskies and does two-thirds to three-quarters of its annual business in the three month run up to Christmas.

The Wee Dram in Bakewell

The Wee Dram in Bakewell - Credit: Archant

RECOMMENDS: Drinking wisely and well

We have a whisky festival in mid-October and from then on it gets really busy with people thinking about buying for Christmas. People have triggers for buying for Christmas, sometimes it’s the end of the summer holidays or the first frost. People come to us because they want something they can’t buy in a supermarket, something different or unusual. They pay anything from £25 to several thousand pounds and last Christmas I sold a bottle of whisky for £2,600 – which doesn’t happen very often! My advice on over-indulgence is to drink less but drink better. Go for something of higher quality whether its whisky or wine. There are two reasons for this: better quality, more refined products don’t have as much coarse alcohol in them, so you don’t get as much of a hangover and secondly, if your drink of choice is expensive you are less likely to drink as much of it. My favourite bottle is an Ardberg Uigeadail which is £58.95, so it’s not the sort of thing you knock back. It’s something to savour.’

The Acropolis Café Bar

Kevin Murray of Acropolis

Kevin Murray of Acropolis - Credit: Archant

at Market Place, Derby, has been a family-run business for 40 years and specialises in traditional British homemade food. It’s most popular dish on the menu is the Full English Breakfast

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Owner Kevin Murray said: ‘We serve everything from scrambled egg on toast, a Full English to The Full Monty, the biggest breakfast you could ever imagine on a plate. It includes three rashers of bacon, three sausages, two eggs, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding and hash browns plus two slices of toast and a large tea or coffee. ‘From personal experience I’d say that if you have been over-drinking a late breakfast in the morning can help. The fat in the breakfast counteracts the acidity in the alcohol – but make sure you don’t eat it too early. And if you drink a pint of water before you go to bed and take a couple of paracetamol you might not need that breakfast at all! ‘I’m a Scot and obviously New Year is the big event in my diary. We go away to Scotland to celebrate the New Year and stay in a variety of different hotels. And the Scots vary slightly in their answer to over drinking. At every hotel in Scotland on each table at breakfast on New Year’s Day you will find a bottle of Irn-Bru because it is supposed to cure hangovers.’ Kevin said of the iconic Scottish soft drink: ‘It may be just the placebo effect but it certainly seems to help.’

Derbyshire Ramblers, Gordon is on the left

Derbyshire Ramblers, Gordon is on the left - Credit: Archant

Gordon Bell

aged 83, of Allestree has been a rambler for more than half a century. He is a long-standing member of the Derbyshire Dales Ramblers and has been a regular walker in the Peak District since 1964

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The retired Rolls-Royce engineer walks twice a week and often leads walks of around six miles. The Derbyshire Dales Ramblers celebrates the festive season with a walk of about four miles rounded off with a celebratory meal in a Peak District pub. Gordon said: ‘I retired 20 years ago and I’m pretty fit but I don’t over-indulge at Christmas time because I have diabetes. Of course I’m biased but I’d say walking is the best medicine anybody can have. No problem is as bad once you have been out for a walk!’ Gordon advises that the cure for all ills is to don a good pair of walking boots, get out in the open air and drink in the beautiful Peak District countryside. He said: ‘In winter you’ll also need waterproof trousers and jacket, a haversack for your map, sandwiches and a hot drink. We love the countryside, views and companionship. It’s a beautiful thing to do.’ Visit the Derbyshire Dales Ramblers website for details of up to nine different walks each week of between four and 15 miles.

Gloria Havenhand preparing for Christmas

Gloria Havenhand preparing for Christmas - Credit: Archant

Gloria Havenhand

is a scientist and successful businesswoman who runs and owns three honey farms and a Christmas tree nursery in North East Derbyshire. This autumn she opened The Beestro at Troway, which serves varieties of honey and honey products on every dish from scones to salads

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At 72 years old Gloria, known as QB (Queen Bee), remains a powerhouse of drive and energy and says she knows just the thing to help us keep up energy levels, avoid lethargy, prevent piling on the pounds and over-eating during the hectic Christmas period. She said: ‘Even though I’m out and about all the time, it would be quite easy to put on a stone in weight so the one thing I do, every day of my life is to have two teaspoons of raw pollen sprinkles. The pollen contains protein, minerals and vitamins and a caratenoid called lypocene – and carotenoids are great fat busters. If you have two to three spoons of pollen sprinkles ten to 20 minutes before you eat you feel full quite quickly and the lypocene can help you maintain weight over the Christmas period. A lot of people put them on their breakfast cereal which can help you get well into the afternoon without having hunger pangs.’ Gloria who lives at Troway Hall, always spends Christmas with her two children and four grandchildren, the youngest of which, named Angel Bee was born last Christmas Day. She advocates the ‘honey hibernation diet’, which prescribes a tablespoon of honey to be taken at bedtime to fuel the liver and speed up fat-burning metabolism. The bedtime honey habit is also thought to ease stress hormones and help deliver a good night’s sleep – a bonus at a frantic and stressful time of year. Visit to find your nearest stockist of pollen sprinkles, which retail from about £8.50 for 100g (roughly a week’s supply).

Caroline Mackie

is Public Health Manager Healthy Eating for Derbyshire County Council.

Recommends: Healthy cooking methods for a traditional Christmas lunch and sticking to recommended levels of alcohol

She said: ‘I don’t think we should feel guilty about eating Christmas lunch, it’s similar to a traditional Sunday lunch and nutrition surveys have found that Sunday is one of the best days for people to manage eating their recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables. A traditional Christmas lunch of turkey and vegetables is a pretty good meal, with a few caveats. Turkey is good for protein and the darker meat on the leg is higher in iron. I’d suggest removing the skin which is full of fat. Vegetables count towards your five a day but ideally steam them. Try stir-frying the sprouts with a bit of oil, no more than a teaspoon, which gives them good flavour and keeps in vitamin C. If you boil vegetables the vitamins leach into the water. Everyone wants potatoes and parsnips roasted but if you cut them into bigger chunks they absorb less fat. And the one thing we generally recommend – throughout the year – is to eat off slightly smaller plates. Christmas pudding is full of dried fruits and that’s a plus but you don’t want to eat a huge amount because it is high in sugar. Let’s just take the positives from the dried fruit!

‘The weekly recommended alcohol limit is 14 units, which equates to six pints of beer or lager at 4% alcoholic volume or about six 175ml glasses of wine, spread out over several days and with no more than two glasses of wine on any occasion. My tips are to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Food helps slow down the rate the body absorbs alcohol. Try staying out of rounds with groups and drink water or a soft drink in between an alcoholic one. It’s wise to stop drinking an hour before the evening ends because it takes a long time to process alcohol – an hour for each unit. Drinking depletes stores of potassium, so eating a potassium-rich banana the next day is a good idea.’

vince sood

is a covering pharmacist at Peak Pharmacy, Chatsworth Road, Chesterfield

RECOMMENDS: Paracetamol and antacids

He said: ‘Hangover symptoms are principally caused by alcohol levels being too high in the blood. The ethanol in the alcohol is the component that causes these symptoms. Alcohol is a diuretic, so it causes dehydration which gives you a headache, dry mouth and can cause dizziness, confusion and nausea. The worst thing you can do is to have hair of the dog! It’s a no-no! The first thing you should do is to take antacids: Gaviscon, Rennies or Setlers. The next best thing after that is to drink plenty of fluids to reverse the dehydration. Also take pain killers because these are a great help. Preferably take paracetamol – soluble paracetamol if you are unable to swallow well. We don’t recommend aspirin because it irritates the stomach. You can also take rehydration sachets which you dissolve in water with a drink to replace lost salts and minerals.’

Vince added: ‘Antacids are very good at relieving symptoms of indigestion caused by over-eating.’

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