The Manual - How to snack yourself better

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Nutritionist Yvonne Bishop Weston instructs us how to tackle Christmas Ailments (without reaching for the pills).

Hangovers

A stodgy fry-up is a good hangover cure because a boozy night out causes fluctuations in your blood sugar level, fatiguing your body - and both fat and protein balance it out. But why go for an unhealthy cure over a wholesome prevention? Have some oily fish before you go out - even if it's just some sardines and crackers kept in your desk at work.

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Drink water throughout the night and, when you get home, put a glass of fruit juice and some oat cakes next to your bed. It's not dehydration that wakes you up in the night after drinking - it's your blood sugar level crashing. The juice will relieve your dry throat and release sugars quickly, the oat cakes taking care of the longer term. The best thing the morning after is boiled or scrambled eggs twenty minutes after juice - so stock up on those small cartons.

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Indigestion

To prevent indigestion, keep some pro-biotic supplements in the cupboard. These also support the immune system, a lot of which is in the gut (this being a passageway for things from the outside). They contain good bacterias, which form a defence against the other stuff that gets through.

For the same reason natural, unsweetened bio-yoghurt can be helpful if you've already got acid reflux - it's got good bacteria in it, and alcohol and stress all reduce the good bacterias in your gut. The same prevention and cure applies to flatulence - which, like indigestion, is caused by you fermenting instead of digesting your food. You can ferment litres of gas a day.

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Stress

Work gets neglected during the Christmas party season, causing stress. Then there's the expense and domestic strain involved with Christmas. Stress exacerbates all the ailments above. The most effective preventative measure is five protein-based meals a day (three causes blood-sugar spikes and troughs, and your body uses stress hormones to steady your energy levels - what a waste).

Also, avoid caffeine - that sets the peak and trough routine in motion for the whole day. Vitamin B is also fantastic for combating stress (as well as helping the body process alcohol), as it supports the adrenal system that makes those stress hormones. So, keep a wholemeal loaf in your freezer, pumpkin seed butter in the fridge (this has zinc, which supports the immune system too) and some Marmite in the cupboard plus some seeds in your desk at work.

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