Dales GP offers Christmas health advice

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A Dales NHS chief has issued his top tips for a happy - and healthy - Christmas.

Dr Ben Milton, chairman of NHS North Derbyshire CCG and Darley Dale GP, has given his tips for getting through the festive period without too much impact on your waistline.

He said: “Small food swaps can make a huge difference. For example, swapping brandy butter for low fat custard or sausage meat stuffing for cranberry, orange and roast chestnut stuffing will save you more calories than you can imagine. Also, simply ensuring you get your recommended five-a-day will help keep you healthy.

“The last thing you want to wake up to on Boxing Day morning is food poisoning so if you have the honour of cooking the Christmas dinner this year it’s important to make sure that any meat you plan to use is thoroughly defrosted before you begin cooking. A turkey is fully defrosted when there are no ice crystals inside the cavity and the meat is soft when you insert a fork or skewer through it. Keeping raw meat away from veg and other foods helps avoid cross contamination and the spreading of bacteria.”

When eating any Christmas leftovers, make sure you use them up within two days and reheat them until they are steaming hot all the way through.

Dr Milton said: “Our hands remain one of the main ways that germs spread so making sure you wash them before and after touching food also helps reduce the risk of your family getting unwell.

“As wonderful as TV is at Christmas, try and encourage the family to get off the sofa and outside for some fresh air – ideally, after dinner to aid digestion.”

Dr Milton added: “A large range of common winter illnesses and injuries can be treated at home simply with over-the-counter medicines and plenty of rest so it’s important people make sure their medicine cabinets are well stocked with cold remedies, painkillers, antiseptic cream and plasters.

“If you’re already using the internet to look up inventive cures for hangovers, then look no further: sensible drinking is by far the best way to avoid a hangover during the festive season. If you do end up having a heavy drinking session then it’s important to avoid further alcohol for 48 hours to allow your body time to rehydrate and recover.“

Health leaders are also reminding patients not to visit A&E with common winter ailments. A&E provides vital care for life threatening emergencies such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If medical advice is required and the GP surgery is closed, call NHS 111.