Festive markets are popping up in town centres all over the UK, bustling with gloved hands cupping mulled wine mugs and stalls selling an array of candied treats. Christmas is the time for getting together with friends and family to unwind, and temptation to drink more alcohol and sugary hot drinks grows. According to charity Addaction, alcohol consumption rises by 40% in Britain during December, so it’s worth keeping an eye on what and how much we’re drinking this time of year.
Read on to discover healthier alternatives to your favourite Christmas drinks and some useful advice about responsible drinking during the party season.
It’s Beginning to Look a ‘Latte’ like Christmas
Whilst coffee can help you revive yourself in the sluggish winter mornings, caffeine makes your body produce urine quicker and can disrupt sleep, actually making you more tired – not ideal when you’re meant to be getting some quality shut-eye over the busy Christmas period. Why not replace coffee beans with a couple of teaspoons of carob powder? This can be found at most health food stores – all the flavour, but without the afternoon crash.
Did you know that you could be more susceptible to caffeine depending on your genetics? If you’d like to know more about how your DNA influences how your body processes caffeinated drinks, take a look at our DNA Diet test.
If you’re more of a tea drinker, consider switching to herbal varieties which can be more beneficial to your health. Here are some common choices:
- Ginger: Feeling bloated after too many brussels sprouts and roast parsnips? Said to alleviate certain stomach complaints, try sipping on ginger tea after a heavy Christmas dinner to promote healthy digestion! You can find other stomach friendly foods in this NHS Choices article.
- Cinnamon: Sweet and pungent cinnamon-infused teas reduce the need for adding heaped teaspoons of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Peppermint: The soothing flavour of peppermint tea acts as a muscle relaxant, easing stomach upset, and -- bonus -- it freshens breath for when you're caught under the mistletoe! Mint-tea fresh!
Choc Full of Goodness
You don’t need to forgo your decadent treat even if you’re trying to be healthy – just avoid the sugary pre-packaged mixes in favour of a homemade version.
Simply mix antioxidant-rich cocoa powder (unsweetened, of course!) with a little milk and hot water, and cosy up by the fireplace. For a dairy-free alternative, use almond milk fortified with extra nutrients like vitamin D – particularly helpful during the winter months when we don’t get as much of our vitamin D from sunlight.
What about the toppings? – Try replacing whipped cream and marshmallows with healthier alternatives:
- Almonds: Packed full of healthy fats, top your hot choc with almonds for added benefits and a satisfying crunch.
- Seeds: Sprinkle on some ground flax or chia seeds for a dusting of omega-3 fatty acids and fibre.
Spread the Christmas ‘Cheers’ with these Seasonal Mocktails
These alcohol-free versions of your Christmas favourites will get you in the holiday mood, without the unwelcome hangover:
- Mulled Apple Juice: Warming and guilt-free, this hot juice drink is flavoured with immune-boosting citrus fruits.
- Driver’s Punch: Don't worry if you're the designated driver -- this fruity, fizzy, festive party punch helps fulfil your five-a-day quota.
Time to Wine Down – Healthy Party Drinking
You don’t need to completely cut out alcohol at Christmas, provided you are mindful of the choices you make.
- Fix how you mix: Your choice of mixer makes a huge difference. Be careful of how many Irish coffees you’re drinking at the Christmas markets! Coffee’s stimulant effects can mask the alcoholic depressant, making you less aware of how drunk you are, which can lead to over-drinking. Consider swapping to a decaf variety if this is your favourite festive tipple! On top of this, combining caffeine and alcohol can raise blood pressure, aggravating some cardiovascular illnesses. Read our five tips for a healthy heart for more info on how to keep your ticker in tip-top shape.
- The Next One’s on Me: Addiction reports that 14% of British drinkers regularly consume more than they intended at Christmas, perhaps because of social pressure. Avoid getting sucked into paying for the next ‘round’ and comfortably drink at your own pace.
- ‘Thirst’ Aid Kit: As alcohol is a diuretic, it increases your urine output and therefore causes dehydration. This is a recipe for excessive thirst, headaches and dizziness. Prevent a dreaded hangover by alternating your drinks with water, herbal tea or juice.
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