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Party food perils: Staying healthy over the festive period

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With party season fast approaching, rich food, late nights and a glass of bubbly with friends are all on the menu – in abundance. And playing the perfect host or gracious guest can eventually take its toll over the festive weeks. But to stay healthy in the lead up and during Christmas, Nutritonist Fiona Hunter gives us her advice on controlling the effects of party food perils.

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Keep hydratedTo prevent skin from looking drab and tired one of the easiest things you can do is to keep hydrated. Water is key – when you wake up each morning have a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon. If you don’t like the taste, try flavouring your water with a couple of sprigs of fresh mint or a few slices of cucumber in cold water Smart snackingIf heading off to a party straight after work, try and have a low GI snack which will line your stomach so you won't arrive ready to raid the canapés. Oatcakes with a reduced-fat topping are a great healthy snack as they give slow energy release. Also remember, salty foods like crisps make you automatically thirsty and want to drink more and buffet food in general can be loaded with hidden calories Mix drinks – with waterAdopt the one on, one off approach when it comes to drinking. After every alcoholic drink, have a large glass of sparking water with lemon and sip it slowly. Not only will it quench your thirst but it will also help fill you up and ensure you pace yourself and follow the recommend units.Buffet bewareWe often pick at the nibbles even if we aren't hungry just because they are there. So only visit the buffet table once, fill your plate will all the good stuff and then top it off with one small treat. Once finished, get rid of the plate. Better still, limit yourself to just a napkin. That way, you won't be able to pile it high. Rainbow foods are your party friend! As a rule of thumb, the brighter the vegetable the better it is for you so start nibbling on sliced red peppers, celery and cucumber strips – just don't drench them in creamy dips! Don't miss mealsStay healthy over the festive season by eating regularly with three meals a day and two healthy snacks. Don't allow yourself to get overly hungry as its harder to control your appetite. Stress, tiredness and poor diet can also take its toll on you and deplete friendly bacteria living in the gut so I'd also suggest having a probiotic yogurt each day or take a probiotic supplement.Slow downBloating can be a common complaint over the festive season as we are eating different types of food, over indulging, and often eating far too quickly, so remember to eat slowly (which will also trick your brain into thinking its full sooner) and chew your food well. Also – avoid fizzy drinks as this will make you more bloated.Fiona Hunter is Nutritionist for the Simple Advisory Board

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