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Friday, December 18, 2009

Home at last

Britney Arendse and other children pack their bags and leave hospital just in time for Christmas: 8, 9


Keep your carbon footprint in check over the festivities: 4, 5


A to Z of natural hangover cures: 11


Last-minute Christmas gifts for foodies: 12

Picture: Nick Bradshaw





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Over-indulgence at Christmas time can pile on unwanted pounds, says Arlene Harris. So watch what you eat! Kate O’Reilly WHAT’S ON ROAD RACE: The Annual Dick Copithorne Memorial 4 Mile Road Race will take place in Belgooly, Co Cork, December 26 at noon. This event is being organised by Belgooly Athletic Club and is open to all athletes, joggers, fun-runners and walkers. The entry fee is F10 and 50% will be donated to the Bowel Cancer Treatment Fund at Cork University Hospital. Entries at the GAA grounds up to 11.45am on the day, or Belgooly Community Centre, tonight 8 to 9pm. Sponsorship cards are also available. Details: John or Rose Copithorne on 086-1713500 or 086-8411193. CHRISTMAS MARKET: This is the final weekend of the Cork Christmas Market on the Grand Parade. The market is open from 9am to 8pm today and 12pm to 8pm tomorrow and Sunday. The English Market will be open on Sunday. YOGA FOR SIMON: The Art of Rest is a yoga workshop which will be held at Unity Yoga, Patrick’s Hill Cork tomorrow from 10am to 1.30pm. Cost F35 — or whatever you can afford — and 50% of the proceeds will go to the Cork Simon Community. Call Aria Ungerer on 086-3969965 or see AWARE HELPLINE: The Aware LoCall Helpline is 1890 303302. It provides a listening service for people with depression and their families and is open throughout the holidays: Monday-Wednesday, 10am to 10pm and Thursday-Sunday, 10am to1pm. ISPCC APPEAL: Last Christmas Day alone the ISPCC heard from over 770 troubled children. They need your help this Christmas to raise F1 million. Donations can be made through, by calling 1850 504050, or by purchasing an ISPCC Holly badge for F2. There will also be ISPCC street collections, including a collection in Marks & Spencer in Merchants Quay, Cork today and tomorrow. Call the ISPCC’s Cork office, 1st Floor Penrose Wharf on 021-450 9588. NATIONAL GALLERY: The Christmas Family Art Holiday will take place from Monday to Wednesday, December 28 to 30 3-4.30pm. in the National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square West, Dublin. No booking necessary and admission is free. Call 01-6615133 or see FESTIVE FUN: Imaginosity, Dublin’s interactive children’s museum is hosting a series of festive events including daily arts and crafts workshops and dance workshops which are free with admission. Bookings on: 01-217 6130; Items for inclusion in this column can be sent to

Weight watchers I T’S THE season to be jolly. Yes, the holidays are upon us, and despite the recession we have all thrown off the shackles of everyday routine and are beginning to settle down for a fortnight of indulgence. For some that may be an early evening glass of sherry, for others it’s a selection box for breakfast, but whatever your guilty pleasure, the Christmas period is a time to be decadent, naughty and often downright greedy. But here’s a sobering thought, the average householder in Ireland will put on five pounds between Christmas and New Year — that’s almost half a stone. And all of it down to the extra mince pie at Auntie Maureen’s and the irresistible sausage rolls after the school nativity play (those were meant for the kids, you know). But enough of the Scrooge-like doom and gloom — we’re supposed to be joyful. So how can we stave off the pounds and still enjoy the one time of the year when extravagance is the order of the day? Nutritionist, Margot Brennan of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) says we don’t have to cancel the chocolates and puddings, just be more aware of how much we are eating. “Over-doing your food intake on Christmas Day is pretty normal, but what causes most problems for people is the extended BE CAREFUL: Indulging in too many mince pies can pile on the pounds this Christmas. party season,” she says. “Trays of canapés and bowls of nuts and crisps really pile on Picture: iStock

the calories, and while you are drinking and chatting you will be unaware of how much you are eating.” Margot advises party-goers to fill a plate of food and try to make it last — also try adding a few low-calorie snacks into the mix. “A handful of nuts is 250 calories and most of those pastry bites are at least 70 calories,” she reveals. “Pretzels, crudités and salsas are a lighter option and by replacing creamy, deep-fried starters with something like melon, soup or smoked salmon you will make a big difference. “By choosing a healthy option, you will not only be doing yourself a favour, but most of your guests will be thankful for the alternative.” With two thirds of the Irish population deemed as obese, our love of food and lack of movement is heightened over the holiday period. But Brennan says it doesn’t have to be like that. “Most of us have more time off over Christmas, so use it to get out and about — wrap up and go for a walk with your family or burn off some calories on the dance floor at the Christmas party,” she says. So revellers, the message is clear, enjoy the festivities but not so much that your New Year’s resolutions are impossible to achieve ■ For more advice on how to survive the festive food feast visit

SUICIDE HELP: HeadsUp, Rehab’s suicide prevention programme, enlisted the help of gardening expert, Diarmuid Gavin, and HeadsUp’s Youth Ambassador Helen O’Sullivan, Dundrum to launch its winter fundraising campaign.

HEALTH NOTES BARNARDOS, Ireland’s leading children’s charity, is set to get a helping hand over the Christmas period with Hibernian Aviva Health offering to contribute F50 for new health policies signed up from now until December 30. To get the campaign underway Hibernian Aviva Health committed an initial F10,000 to the charity, which will be used to fund Barnardos’ vital work with children/families in over 42 projects throughout Ireland. Barnardos has appealed for help to keep their services open as the charity faces a projected 20% shortfall in voluntary funds in 2009, with a further substantial gap predicted for 2010. PETER Mark is teaming up with Oxfam Ireland with the Unwrapped Christmas gift campaign, which aims to support women in the developing world. Gifts entitled ‘Give Girls a Head Start’ (F30) help support girls’ education, while ‘Support a Woman in Business’ (F40) gives women in Africa the opportunity to turn their start-up enterprises into successful small businesses, another life changing gift. The gift cards are available in Peter Mark salons nationwide.

injuries. Parents should be extra vigilant around this time,” says Temple Street emergency consultant Dr Peter Keenan, who advises keeping lit candles and Christmas lights out of children’s reach, supervising small children if they’re playing with toys with small parts, only giving toys that suit child age and ability, guarding the fireplace and checking that children are well clear of hot appliances in the kitchen.

ABOUT 4,000 children visit the A&E Department of Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, each year over the busy Christmas period, often due to unforeseen accidents at home. “Changes in domestic routine and arrangements at Christmas time can result in children suffering unexpected

PURCHASE a hyacinth bulb as a gift for a loved one this Christmas and support HeadsUp, Rehab’s suicide prevention programme. Traditionally a Christmas flower, the hyacinth bulb is presented in a specially-designed glass vase and can be purchased for F7 from Rehab SMILES shops, RehabCare centres and many TOP service

stations nationwide — TOP will donate all proceeds from sales of the bulbs directly to HeadsUp. Specifically targeted at young people aged 15 to 24, HeadsUp promotes positive mental health and provide info/support to those in need. Its free, confidential 24-hour text service offers details of various helplines/support services on topics including teen issues, alcohol, suicide, drugs and mental health.

A NEW website,, launched by The Crisis Pregnancy Agency, will help parents talk to their children about sexual activity, Parentline has said. The parent support group regularly receives calls from parents concerned about their children’s relationship with boys/girls, who feel uncomfortable about broaching the topic of sexual activity with their children, no matter what age. Yet they worry about what age their children will start having a sexual relationship, how they will cope with a break-up, their health, unplanned pregnancy and how to talk to them about sex. Helen O’Callaghan EDITORIAL: Irene Feighan 021-4802292 ADVERTISING: Niamh Kelly 021-4802215






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Good Will to all

PRESENTER of the 2FM weekday drivetime programme, The Will Leahy Show, and a practising solicitor as well, Will Leahy will grace our TV screens on Tuesday, December 29, when he presents The Great Noughties Quiz on RTÉ One. But something more life-changing is happening in the 38-year-old’s life on the same day — after an 18-year courtship, he’s marrying his sweetheart, Rachel Dobson, also a Limerick solicitor. “The stars are all aligning for me on December 29,” says the Limerick man, adding that he and Rachel are planning a different type of wedding. “We’re the last of our gang to get married and we’ve been to thousands of hotel weddings, so we’re having it in a coffee-shop on the side of a cliff. Diamond Rock Café in Kilkee, Co Clare, is our favourite place and we used to say wouldn’t it be hilarious if we got married there,” says Will, who has been assured that winds would have to be at 90 miles an hour to prevent a marquee being erected. The Great Noughties Quiz airs at 9.30pm on Tuesday, December 29, on RTÉ One. What shape are you in? Pretty good — as soon as I knew we’d be filming the TV show, I felt I needed to lose some weight, so I’ve lost half a stone. I discovered running four or five years ago and I run a couple of times a week. My brother gave me a present of an iPod NikePlus — a gadget that tells you as you run how many miles you’ve done. I find that a great incentive. I also have a personal trainer, Eoin Franklin, whom I see once a week. Do you have any health concerns? No, I’m quite blessed in that regard.

What are your healthiest eating habits? Having brown rice instead of white and not eating between meals enabled me to lose half a stone. I’ve also swapped potatoes for egg-white omelettes and I don’t eat dessert. What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Banoffi pie.

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An inability to stop worrying — I’m a constant worrier. Do you pray? I do but I wouldn’t be as religious as I should be. What could cheer up your day? At the moment, looking out the window and not seeing a monsoon-type rain out there. Helen O’Callaghan

HAT TRICK: _2FM presenter and solicitor Will Leahy who hosts a TV show over Christmas has a weakness for banoffi pie.

For appointment contact: Anne Maher 087 9887256 Landline: 056 7769373 Email: Website: Free car parking


What would keep you awake at night? Lots of things. It’s difficult having two jobs — you have twice the stress and two sets of staff issues and one job doesn’t appreciate that you have the other. What’s on the radio programme next day along with my clients’ worries would all keep me awake. How do you relax? I go running, but walking the dog is the greatest stress reliever of all. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? Dara O’Briain for conversation, as well as Sarah Palin and Michael McDowell — I’d put the two of them sitting together for entertainment. When did you last cry? I think I cried on the day Rachel and I got engaged in August.


What’s your favourite smell? Scones baking on a Sunday morning. What would you change about your appearance? I wish I was a couple of inches taller. What trait do you least like in others? Rudeness — not being punctual. But my number one pet hate is when people press the up and down buttons while waiting for the lift.

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What trait do you least like in yourself?

Every Friday.






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Don’t waste your A staggering amount of wrapping paper, cartons and plastic covers goes to landfill after Christmas each year. Áilín Quinlan suggests how we can tackle the problem


E SURE know how to celebrate Christmas in this country — figures show that Irish consumers munch their way through an estimated 8.5 million mince pies, 1.4 million tins of biscuits, one million selection boxes and, just to get us into the festive spirit, pull 16 million Christmas crackers. And that’s not including the 164 million or so drink containers — including alcoholic and non-alcoholic cans and bottles consumed at Christmas parties and nights out over the festive season. As a result, points out Mary White, deputy leader of the Green Party, we create a staggering amount of packaging that often goes to landfill. “The amount of wrapping paper, cartons and plastic covers that goes to landfill after Christmas each year is staggering,” says White. “People should recycle more, make their own wrapping paper — and remember you are quite entitled to leave some packaging behind in the shop. I think the Irish public is not sufficiently aware of the need to recycle and take a green approach,” she says. According to research undertaken by Repak, each household generates about 54kg over the Christmas period, or a 30% increase in the overall amount of used packaging. You can also make a big impact on your environment through the type of goods you purchase, says Elaine Nevin, national director of Eco-Unesco Ireland, the environmental and educational youth organisation. “People should think before they shop, think about what they really need, try to buy products with less packaging, try to buy local and maybe buy a membership to an environmental organisation as a present — by doing this you are supporting environmental protection.” Web: Avoid using artificial trees where possible — go for a real tree from a sustainable forest, advises energy consultant Declan McCormac of the Dublin Energy Management Agency. “The argument is made that an artificial tree is a one-off and that you’ll have it for 20 years, but remember, these trees are not recyclable and the energy and oil that goes into making them produces greenhouse gases.” Coillte has a list of depots around the country selling a variety of Christmas trees. For more information on the location of Coillte’s Christmas tree depots log on to



Books and batteries — give children books with an environmental message as Christmas gifts, suggests Elaine Nevin, national director of Eco-Unesco: “It is educational for children to explore the need to take care of their planet,” she says. Dispose of your batteries in local authority recycling depots advises Declan McCormac. And, remember, many Christmas toys and gadgets need batteries, so invest in a battery re-charger. Follow the example set by President McAleese and send e-cards. Dispose of your tree in an environmentally friendly way, advises McCormac. Contact your local authority or Coillte for information on where to dispose of your tree — or chop it up yourself and burn in your fireplace. For maximum energy-saving, try new LED Christmas lights. The LED

(Light Emitting Diode) lights use up to 90% less energy than larger, traditional Christmas bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED lights also emit significantly less heat than conventional lights. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will continue to work, says Elaine Nevin of Eco-Unesco. When shopping for food or drink, avoid goods which involve unnecessary packaging or complicated mixed material packaging that can make recycling difficult says Eco-Unesco. Go green on your decorations — try making your own, re-using some from last year or even going out into the garden or the local forest to collect twigs and pine cones and greenery for Christmas wreaths and that special outdoorsy touch.


Turn the heating down. Many people keep the heating too high. If it’s above 20ºC turn it down. According to Sustainable Energy Ireland, lowering your thermostat by just 1ºC will knock 10% off your heating bill. Ensure your attic and hot water cylinder are properly insulated and do the same for an elderly relative — perhaps insulate their cylinder as an alternative and practical Christmas gift. Saves on heating bills, reduces CO2 emissions and makes for a cosy Christmas. January sales: If you’re going to pick up a bargain at the sales make sure your white goods are energy efficient. Keep your curtains closed at night. Much of the heat loss from a house occurs through the windows, particularly if they are single glazed, according to




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chance Many Christmas toys and gadgets need batteries, so invest in a battery re-charger

X together in the oven — such as turkey and roast vegetables — to cut down on power usage. Use the right size pots for boiling vegetables so you don’t use energy boiling unnecessary amounts of water. Avoid opening the oven door to check the turkey — this can lead to a heat loss of up to 20%, according to Sustainable Energy Ireland. Vegetable candles? Really? Old-fashioned paraffin candles made from petroleum residue and are not good for your health or for the environment. Candles made from soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based wax are more eco-friendly because they biodegrade and are smoke-free.

Picture: Image by ©

Sustainable Energy Ireland. Ensure curtains don’t hang over the radiators — that will funnel heat out the window. The keep-it-closed rule also applies to empty rooms.


Buy provisions locally where possible so that your carbon footprint in getting food to your table is smaller, advises Declan McCormac. Get your turkey ham and veg from local suppli-

Millions of mouth-watering festive goodies means lots and lots of extra packaging. So do more of the good stuff this Christmas — more recycling of glass, paper and plastic and more re-using. And, instead of plastic wrappings, use re-usable gift bags. Reconnect with nature this Christmas — what a great opportunity to start an annual Christmas family tradition! Try a family nature hike, decorate a tree for the birds with pine cones, seed trays etc or plant a tree together for Christmas — Is it okay to ‘re-gift’? Yes, according to some people who believe it makes sense. If you receive something you don’t need, re-use by passing it on to someone who can use it.


Always use real paper instead of foil or plastic wrapping, says Declan McCormac. Paper is biodegradable and can be recycled but other kinds of wrapping can be much harder to dispose of. Don’t be misled by the labelling — just because something is called foil-paper or wrapping-paper doesn’t mean it is paper. Avoid buying glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper — it’s difficult to recycle. Better to use brown paper, which you decorate yourself and wrap with ribbon you’ve saved over the years, says Mary White deputy leader of the Green Party — she does. Quit thinking inside the box for your Christmas gifts — give books instead of plastic battery-powered toys shipped from the other side of the world, donate money to charity or encourage children to donate one toy from their Christmas hoard to a selected women’s refuge. If you want to give a pet try the local animals home for a pet that needs some loving.

Buy recycled. Buying products that have a recycled content is just as important as actually recycling says Elaine Nevin of Eco Unesco. Look out for unusual gifts made from recycled materials, such as glass tableware, stationery or photo frames. The Recycled Products Guide is a searchable directory of products made from recycled materials and contains over 1,000 products. The Recyclenow website also has a directory of products made from recycled materials, Avoid sellotape — tie your gifts with ribbon or use pretty paper bags which can be reused and recycled says McCormac. Turn appliances off rather than leaving them on standby. This will save up to 20% of your appliances’ energy use, according to Sustainable Energy Ireland. Use the shower rather than having a bath — a typical shower uses only one fifth of the energy of a full bath. Turning your computer off at night instead of leaving it on will save on average 25% of its annual energy bill. Use plug-in timers for the Christmas tree, fairy lights and outdoor decorations to control power usage. Cook different dishes


Wrappings, wrappings and more wrappings. Figures show that each household is expected to generate 54kgs (over eight stone) of used wrapping at Christmas. So think more carefully about the kind of wrappings you use. Be inventive and use the comics section out of the newspaper for wrappings, or use the newspaper itself and pretty it up with some ribbon. “Make your own gift bags, cards and wrapping paper for Christmas,” says Elaine Nevin of Eco Unesco, which provides workshops on how to do it. Visit Give sky-lights and windows an Xmas scrub-down. Natural daylight provides a healthier indoor climate, higher standards of visual comfort and makes for more enjoyable interiors. And that’s apart from the energy savings and environmental benefits. Dirt can reduce performance by 10% and even more if it’s allowed to build up says Sustainable Energy Ireland. Giving gifts of service require little or no use of natural resources and are both personal or memorable. So why not give a gift of you — your time, your energy or your expertise — music lessons, childcare, dog walk, cooking lessons a bit of gardening.




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The Catholic Church may not survive in its current form — but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water

A new outlook

Tony Humphreys


IVEN the calls over the last year for serious reflection on how we live our lives in Ireland, I wonder how people will approach this Christmas 2009? The sexual abuse scandals and the systematic covering up of these terrible violations have rocked people’s religious beliefs, and call for an in-depth examination of what religion and spirituality truly mean. The economic recession and the blatant misuse of taxpayers’ and investors’ money have called into question how we live our lives and, most especially, how we relate to ourselves and others. Religion has not served this country well — but then neither has materialism. One wonders what we will next turn our attention to. Given the time of year is it useful to turn to the story of Christ for an answer. The wonder is not that Christ lived but that his story lived on in the hearts and minds of billions of people for over 2,000 years. This phenomenon is even greater than the notion that Christ was God. I am much more comfortable with the idea that Christ was man — and what a remarkable man he was for the short time he graced the world. His teachings on love, non-judgment and the hope of immortality have been and remain inspirational. Sadly, in Ireland, we have not experienced Christianity but a Catholicism that has proven to be light years away from the principles and teachings of Christ. Christ in his own life demonstrated the joys, struggles and sufferings each one of us endures. He went to the heights of ecstasy (The Transfiguration when the apostles exclaimed ‘Lord it is good for us to be here’) to the depths of despair (on the cross when he cried out ‘My God, my God why hast Thou forsaken me?’). His story is a light in the sea of Catholic darkness — the sexual abuse of children, the covering up of these violations, the arrogance, dogmatism, sexual prejudices, marginalisation of women, the materialism and the dilution, even denial, of the great neglects perpetrated. However, it is vital that we do not throw the baby out with the bath water by throwing out Christianity with Catholicism. Many are abandoning the Catholic Church feeling utterly betrayed by the behaviour of its religious orders, clergy, bishops and archbishops — not only in regard to children in the community but also in the abuses uncovered in the Magdalene laundries and the or-


phanages and industrial schools run by Catholic personnel. However, it is critical we do not confuse abandonment of the Catholic Church with abandonment of many well-intentioned individual Christian clergy — religious and lay — who attempted to live and continue to live a Christian life. Will the Irish Catholic Church survive the present crisis? I hope not. What I do hope for is the emergence of a Christian Church that goes back to the roots of the story of Christ and to the profound simplicity of much of what he brought to us in words and actions. We are all aware of the need for fundamental changes in the way we govern our country, economy, education and religion. Mature governship arises from a governship of self and the provision of the love and opportunities for others to govern themselves. This essential process of self-responsibility begins within the family and the relationship with self and level of self-control that each parent has attained. This is the most important factor when it comes to determining whether or not their children achieve such mature governship. This process is a well-substantiated psycho-social reality, and a reality



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LIGHT OF CHRIST: Candles burning in front of the crib in St Peter and Paul’s church in Cork.

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Picture: Richard Mills.

For a different view


strongly echoed in the words of Christ: ‘You love God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself.’ The love of self — the cornerstone of Christ’s teaching — was the best kept secret in the Catholic Church. However, to love self is to know one’s true nature, uniqueness, individual expression and power beyond measure to take responsibility for one’s own feelings, thoughts, dreams and actions. Organisations — religious, economic, political, social — have a fear of such power as it militates against the control they want to have over their members but it is never too late to return to what is essential to human wellbeing and there is no time like the present to begin that practice. Dr Tony Humphreys is a clinical psychologist and author of several books on practical psychology including The Mature Manager.



Your guide to fitness, health, happiness and lifestyle. Great writers and mentors. Where you come first. Every Friday. For a different view




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Keep chilled for the Christmas with these 16 tips from Jane Alexander


VERYONE wants to sparkle — right through the festive season. But sometimes it seems a tall order, what with the stress of organising Christmas plus a year’s parties and celebrations all crammed into a few weeks. However, our simple tips and techniques, all based on the latest research, can help you sparkle as brightly as the Christmas fairy all the way to new year and beyond.

Have a good giggle. Ten minutes of laughter creates the same euphoric effect as 10 minutes of hard aerobics

1. Break out from black and buy your party clothes in vibrant feelgood colours. Colour researchers say that red boosts energy, orange makes you feel sociable, yellow fosters optimism and pink brings a smile to your face. Can’t face that much colour? Go for some wild jewellery, attention-grabbing nail-varnish or a stunning scarf. Don’t limit colour therapy to clothes — deck your home with a dose of searing colour in the form of cushions, throws, candles — and decorations, of course. 2. Ask yourself what you really want from Christmas, says psychotherapist Philip Rogers. Do you love huge parties or would you rather plump for silent night? What makes your heart sink most about the festive season? Is it all the cooking; the in-laws coming to stay? Figure out simple changes that would make it better. If it’s something you can’t change, then admit the problem. Then you won’t feel quite so resentful. 3. A glass (or bottle) too many of festive cheer can deplete levels of stress-reducing, energy-boosting, mood-elevating B vitamins. Ensure you’re protected with a daily dose of B complex. 4. It’s easy to forget fitness when you’re up to your ears in shopping, partying and cooking. But take time to put on a fleece and get walking. Researchers at the University of Southern California have concluded that a daily 15 minute walk is as effective as tranquillisers for reducing anxiety and keeping festive spirits high. If you’re out partying, don’t forget to boogie — dancing is a proven mood-booster. 5. Sound researchers claim that Gregorian chant has the power to soothe the mind and relax the body. Try the sublime Christmas Chant (sung by Benedictine nuns) or Sanctus, a truly divine combination of birdsong, tolling bells and gentle Gregorian chant. Sit back, breathe deeply, and float away. Both available from 6. Have a good giggle. Ten minutes of laughter creates the same euphoric effect as 10 minutes of hard aerobics, says research from the American Association for Therapeutic Humor. Not feeling amused? Get in the mood by watching favourite


comedy shows or just start laughing yourself. At first it will feel forced (and deeply silly) but keep going and you’ll find it’s infectious. 7. For the authentic Christmas mood, follow the wise men and burn some essential oil of Frankincense. It has the ability to slow down and deepen the breath and an ideal stressbuster. And it’s brilliant for helping you feeling calm, happy and peaceful in general so stock up and sniff. 8. Take a Japanese bath to perk yourself up. Susannah Marriott, author of a great new book, Spice Spa (Carroll & Brown) suggests lighting some incense and then soaking in a very hot bath with her “winter bath bag”. Take freshly sliced peel from one mandarin and half a lemon, plus 1 tbsp of grated ginger root and tie up in a square of muslin. Add to the bath and then use to scrub over your body. A sure-fire wake-up call. 9. Think back to when you were a child — what are your happiest memories of the festive season? Try to recreate them — perhaps making home-made decorations or trying to find ones similar to those you remember. Baking your own cakes, mince pies or biscuits can be powerfully evocative as scent is one of the most powerful memory store-houses we possess. 10. Get out and party — it’s good for your health. Amazing research from the Carnegie Mellon University in the USA found that having a wide variety of friends, family and work colleagues makes you four times less likely to catch a cold. The theory is that a diverse social life gives more opportunity for

stress relief and hence greater resistance to bugs. 11. Make your world sparkle — in the most literal sense. Research shows that a little glitter and sparkle makes us perceive our world as brighter and lighter. So dot your home with candles, maybe even invest in a fibre-optic starry sky for your living room. Oh, and sprinkle a liberal dusting of glittery fairy-dust over your face, hair and body too — it’s bound to boost your mood. 12. Psychologists say we often have unrealistic expectations about the festive period (often brought on by childhood memories of “perfect” Christmases.) However, we should all try to calm down as it’s been discovered that perfectionists have a 75% higher incidence of illness than their more laid-back friends. Remember those “perfect” festivities were seen through a child’s eye and may have been anything but from an adult’s perspective. Try delegating and accepting Christmas will be “good enough”. 13. It’s easy to get run down in the run-up to the festive season. A daily dose of miracle supplement Co-Enzyme Q10 can help boost your energy levels and mop up free radicals (from all that over-indulgence too). Recent research also indicates it could be a potent mood-enhancer too… 14. Take time before the new year to think about what you really want from life. Put some thought into which resolutions would make the most real difference to your life. Maybe not giving something up but taking up something new instead. For a real boost, write down 100 things you’d like to do in the coming year — from small details (get a


haircut, explore aromatherapy) to the big issues (go on a mind-expanding trip abroad). 15. “Yoga poses are designed to refresh your body while calming the mind,” says yoga guru Godfrey Devereux. However, if you don’t practice yoga, even simple stretches can have huge benefits. Concentrate on your neck and shoulders which is where most of us hold stress: slowly and carefully roll your head round, letting it drop as far as possible forwards, to your right shoulder, backwards and to your left shoulder. Then do the same in the opposite direction. Clasp your hands behind your back and try to pull your hands away from your back with your arms straight. Hold for a few moments. Round your shoulders and bring your arms in front of you and clasp your hands. Stretch. Shake out your whole body and feel that tingle of energy. 16. Last but not least, try this lovely little new year ritual. Put out all the lights and spend some quiet time in the dark, thinking about the year ahead — your hopes, fears, etc. Then, mindfully, light up to 12 candles one by one — with every new light make a wish for the coming year. Have a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous new year.




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Arlene Harris speaks to four families who, because of illness and injury, have been apart for long periods of time. Here they share their stories, now that they have been given the green light to make plans to celebrate the festive season together


GOOD SPIRITS: Pictured with Adam in Crumlin Children’s Hospital are Olivia Fallon, play specialist, Crumlin Hospital and mum Gemma McGovern. Picture: Nick Bradshaw


dam McGovern is nine years old. He is very close to his twin brother Seamus but he hasn’t seen him for four months. Born with a rare heart condition, the Dublin twin has had several major cardiac operations in his young life — the first when he was just 10 days old. But he is a fighter and has been defying the odds stacked against him by getting stronger every year. However, during the summer holidays, Adam was struck down with a bout of swine flu and had to be rushed to Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin. He has remained there ever since. “Adam’s heart condition is really serious and contracting swine flu was so dangerous for him,” says his mother, Gemma. “He has been in isolation since August which has been heartbreaking for my two boys as they are so close.” But despite his solitary existence the youngster is in great spirits and is very comfortable with his ‘second home’. “Adam has been in and out of Crumlin since he was born and is so contented to be there,” says the 42-year-old. “The staff are amazing and couldn’t have done more for him. He can’t leave his room so they have brought everything to him: play therapy, music therapy and anything else he needs.” But while the hospital has been wonderful for Adam, there really is no place like home and the McGovern family has just been told their little boy will be home for the holidays.


I can’t wait to wrap my twins up in bed while they listen out for Santa’s sleigh “We are overwhelmed with happiness,” says Gemma. “It has been very hard for the twins to be apart for so long and Seamus is so excited about Adam coming home — it’s the best Christmas present we could ever get. “Nothing is more important than family and good health, and although Adam will have to have a heart transplant in a couple of years, for the moment we will be together and that’s all that matters. “I can’t wait to wrap my twins up in bed while they listen out for Santa’s sleigh — I will be thanking God and Our Lady’s Hospital for making this the most magical Christmas ever.”

ISÍN O’GORMAN’S family will also be toasting good health this Christmas. In September 2008, the young Waterford boy was cycling his bicycle when he had an accident, tumbling head over heels and landing on the handlebars of his bike. Although he didn’t appear to be badly injured, his mother Jennifer took him to his local GP for reassurance. Much to her surprise, the doctor called an ambulance immediately and Oisín was rushed to hospital. It was there they discovered that the force of the handlebars had lacerated one of his kidneys and urgent surgery was necessary. Although shocked by the turn of events, Jennifer and her husband Kieran reassured themselves that while he would have to have a kidney removed, he still had a healthy organ. They were wrong. “While the surgeons were removing Oisín’s damaged kidney, they discovered that the other one hadn’t developed at all and had no function whatsoever,” says Jennifer. “It was a terrible blow to us all. We were suddenly faced with a little boy who needed dialysis and a kidney transplant.” But luckily for the O’Gorman family, Kieran was a deemed to be a perfect match and last July he donated a kidney to his young son. It has been four months since the successful operation and although he has had a few subsequent visits to hospital, Oisín is now back on his feet and most importantly back home with his parents and his younger brother Fionn, aged seven. “Last Christmas was very hard for Oisín because he was so ill and couldn’t eat or drink normally,” recalls Jennifer, 32. This year he is in perfect health, full of energy and the nine year old can hardly wait for Santa. “Having a sick child makes you aware how important the simple things in life are — we are really looking forward to a happy family Christmas together.”

FAMILY TIES: Oisín O’Gorman with his dad Kieran who donated his kidney to him. Picture: Dan Linehan

Kieran was deemed to be a perfect match and last July he donated a kidney to his young son

We had been praying to God every day to give us back our daughter


AST June nine-year-old Britney Arendse spent an afternoon on the beach with her mother and some friends. When they were travelling home, they were involved in a head-on collision with an on-coming car that veered out of control. All the occupants of the car suffered horrendous injuries, but the little girl wearing a lap belt in the back seat was the most affected. “I was sitting in the passenger seat when I saw the car heading towards us,” recalls Britney’s mum, Bridget. “The impact was unbelievable and my mother, who was driving behind us, saw it all happen.” When the emergency services arrived, Britney was slumped forward in her seat. The force of the crash had caused the lap belt to almost sever her in half — she had lost most of her spleen and her back was broken, but miraculously she was alive and awake. All the crash victims were rushed to hospital in Drogheda, but the severity of Britney’s injuries meant she had to go on to Temple Street. Her heart stopped in the ambulance and was resuscitated by paramedics. At the children’s hospital she underwent 12 hours of surgery where she ‘died’ again on the operating table — this time it took five minutes to bring her back to life. “Britney was in a coma for three weeks following the operation and I was in hospital in Drogheda,” says her 37-year-old mother. “My husband, Denver, was in South Africa at the time and flew back immediately — but there was nothing any of us could do apart from pray.” Despite the horrific nature of her injuries, Britney refused to give up and after regaining consciousness she underwent several operations to


The incubator became home for Michael for four months


TRUE FAITH: Denver and Bridget Arendse with their daughter Britney who they delighted to have home. Picture: Nick Bradshaw repair her back, stomach and limbs. She is now paralysed from the waist down but has spent the past four months at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire regaining strength and learning how to use her upper body to become independent again. But because she is confined to a wheelchair, the family home is no longer suitable and Britney’s parents have been frantically trying to find somewhere to rent so their little girl can come home. Just last week they found a bungalow, but it won’t be available to rent until January. So, in a desperate bid to have their daughter with them for Christmas, Bridget and Denver, 39, have moved out of their home and will be staying in a local guest house which has adequate wheelchair accessibility. “We have been so stressed trying to find somewhere to have Christmas together. But we recently found a lovely guest house and now we have been told that Britney will be allowed to come out on her tenth birthday (yesterday) — all of our prayers have been answered,” says Bridget. “We are so thankful to have our little girl with us, the only thing that got us through this ordeal was our faith — we have been praying to God every day to give us back our daughter and despite everything she has been through, she will be with us again. “We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us, and although we won’t be in our own home, this year is going to be the best Christmas ever.”

VERY baby’s first Christmas is special, but Sonya and Michael Laycock from Cavan are deeply grateful to have their young son at home as he has been in hospital since he was born last August. Sonya went into premature labour 24 weeks into her pregnancy. Having had two ectopic pregnancies and one miscarriage, the 32-year-old was told she had a 99% chance of losing this baby too. So when she discovered the baby was arriving early, she was terrified. “I thought my pregnancy was going perfectly, but then I went for a routine scan and they discovered that my waters were leaking and the neck of the womb was open,” she recalls. “I was rushed to hospital in Dublin as my baby was going to be born way too soon.” And 16 weeks before his due date, Michael Laycock was born just two hours after Sonya arrived in The Coombe. Immediately after delivery the tiny baby (1.8lbs) was whisked away to the neo-natal ward where he was checked over by consultants and was placed in the incubator which would become home for the next four months. “It was such an emotional time for all of us,” recalls the financial review agent. “Not to be able to touch your new baby is heart breaking. We were told that he only had a 20% of surviving the night — it was really scary.” But every hour of his new life would see Michael gaining strength and, as midwives taught the new mother how to express milk for her infant, she began to see real hope for the future. “As well as his size, Michael was also suffering from chronic lung disease and had an open valve in his heart — he was so fragile. But as the days went on we could see him getting stronger and the dream of having our own child was becoming a reality.” Sonya and her husband (also Michael) had organised their wedding to take place

MIRACLE BABY: Sonya and Michael Layton with baby Michael, born at 24 weeks. Now 16 weeks old, he is the size of a newborn. Picture: Barry Cronin towards the end of her pregnancy — but their son had arrived earlier than expected. “We had planned to get married in September as I wasn’t due until December, but although baby Michael was still in hospital, we decided to go ahead with it anyway as we had family coming from abroad,” she says. “So we had a small ceremony and then went to have pictures taken in the ward with our new son. “We also had him christened by the hospital chaplain and had a small mass with our families in the chapel.” Michael has finally reached his original due date and has been sent home in time for Christmas with his parents — he is the best present they could ever have imagined. “We have wanted a child for so long and having our son home with us is something we never thought we would achieve,” says Sonya. “He is our miracle and the only thing we want for Christmas this year — we can’t thank everyone at The Coombe enough.”



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Dr Niamh Houston



Dr Niamh Houston is a GP with a special interest in integrative medicine. If you have a question about your child’s health email it to or send a letter to Feelgood Irish Examiner City Quarter Lapps Quay Cork

. I AM recently separated and find it very difficult to make holiday arrangements with the children’s father. It always seems to involve one-upmanship and point scoring. Have you any suggestions how to make this less stressful for the whole family? A. Regardless of marital status, we all experience stress around Christmas. However, for separated families, this time of year can be a nightmare. Christmas is a time for reminiscing and reassessing our lives and this can magnify emotional pain for separated or divorced families. This is the first Christmas you both have had to negotiate additional child-centred issues and it sounds as if it is adding turmoil and chaos to what is already an emotional mine-field. You both now are ex-spouses and co-parents. The ability of your children to adjust not only to Christmas arrangements, but also to the separation is directly affected by how well you both learn to adjust to your new roles. Try to make arrangements as far in advance as possible. Agree on a time on Christmas Day when you both can see your children, this may be easier to arrange if both parents still live relatively close to each other. Or compromise and one of you see them on Christmas Day and the other parent sees them on St Stephen’s Day. This gives both parents the opportunity to celebrate with the children and avoids rushing them to two Christmas dinners. This could be alternated the following years, so that you each get to spend Christmas Day with your children every other year. Put your children’s needs before your own. It’s not fair to put them in difficult situations. Having to choose between you and the other parent is a tremendous burden for any child. Children will sense hostility between their parents and this can result in feelings of ambivalence and even dread as Christmas approaches. Your children will feel happier if you keep them involved with plans and arrangements. It is common for separated or divorced parents to try to outdo each other and “buy” the child. Some parents feel they have to make up for their absence by indulging their children. Competing for your children’s love and loyalty only confuses them. They will test boundaries and may try to take advantage of your misplaced guilt. Agree on a Christmas present budget for you both. This will avoid competition and also the children will not end up with identical gifts. Set realistic expectations, develop a good support system for yourself , and focus on the needs of your children. The best gift you can give your children this Christmas is permission to love both parents.

Picture: iStock

Separated parents competing for their children’s love and loyalty only confuses them I am on medication to control my high blood pressure. I am hoping to have a baby, but have heard that getting pregnant is dangerous if you have high blood pressure. Should I stop taking the medication before I get pregnant? A. No, you should never stop taking a prescribed medication without first talking to your doctor. Women with high blood pressure can have a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby with careful monitoring and good control over their blood pressure. Taking steps such as watching your diet — limiting your salt and sodium intake will help control your blood pressure before and during pregnancy. If you’re overweight, losing weight will also help you have safer pregnancy. Make sure you are in the best possible physical condition. Avoid alcohol and don’t smoke. Watch your diet, be active and exercise. Regular physical activity will help control your blood pressure, help you lose weight and increase your overall sense of well-being. It’s important to control your blood pressure during pregnancy to avoid harm to your kidneys and other organs, as well

as preventing low birth weight and early delivery. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in decreased blood flow to the placenta, which can reduce the baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients. This could slow the baby’s growth and increase the risk of a low birth weight. Also, the risk of heart attack, stroke and other problems associated with high blood pressure doesn’t go away during pregnancy. Discuss your medication programme with your doctor. Although most prescribed medicines used to lower blood pressure are safe during pregnancy others, such as ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme), ARBs (angiogenesis receptor blockers) and renin inhibitors, should be avoided during pregnancy. They have been shown to be dangerous to mother and baby alike. During pregnancy you will be given regular check-ups. Your weight and blood pressure will be checked at every visit and you may need frequent blood and urine tests. Regular ultrasounds can track your baby’s growth and development. After delivery, most women who have high blood pressure and on medication can breast-feed.

NOTE: The information contained in Dr Houston’s column is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor first

Catherine Shanahan MUM’S WORLD Feelgood

Dear Santa, I know this is Mammy’s column but I overheard her tell a friend recently that it’s easier to get an Irish Examiner in the North Pole than in Dunnes Stores. On that basis, I decided to hijack a few inches of Feelgood to set out my stall in the hope that you pick up De Paper in your local Londis before you get the show on the road. Mammy wanted me to send a letter by snail mail but have you ever seen a snail road trip? Trust me, the only thing slower is a wet weekend. Anyhow, what I really wanted to say is I know you’ve signed up to the notion of continuous assessment but, being brutally honest, I prefer one big roll of the dice. The stress of being a year-round Goodie Twoshoes is crucifying me and, come December, I’ve lost the will to live.

No offence old man but when you were a child who on earth did they threaten you with? Lex Luthor? The Joker? Kang the Conqueror? Ming the Merciless? Darth Vader? The Sinister Six? I am sick to the teeth of being formally cautioned any time I step out of line: “If Santa finds out..” “If Santa could see you...” — the threat is there all of the time. Your eyes are so twinkly and your suit so ridiculous I’m convinced you’re up for the craic. Who else in their right mind would take to the skies with just reindeer to keep him on track? Have you ever heard of SatNav? It’s Daddy’s favourite gadget — it takes him to Timbuktu and back. Anyway, what I was wondering was do you think there’s a chance you could call off the elf on the shelf? Mammy has him


watching me 24/7 and I really need you to help. (It’s like reality TV, without the celebs, or a whiff of any cash prize). If you do this for me I will limit my wish list to an emm pee tree player, a PlayStation and a bike. (If you’re not sure what an emm pee tree is, I think it’s from the Night Garden and the PlayStation is really for Dad. He says he can’t ask because he’s too old and Santa would think he was sad). So Santa, thanks for you time, no need to reply, just magic away that mad elf. And keep your eyes peeled for a gallon of beer when you drop by later this month. May this Christmas be my best one yet. As Obi Wan said to the storm trooper: “You don’t need to see my credentials”. Doubtya boy, Lughaidh.




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Oooh... the pain of it when you are all partied out. Rosie Shelley has her own A to Z suggestions for bringing a healthy balance back to your wrecked body


HERE’S no escaping the fact — and who would want to — that Christmas is the season for feasting and festivity, a welcome break from self-restraint. Less welcome is the way you feel after a night’s drinking in the cold light of day, so it’s good to know that there’s a lot you can do to minimise the damage. Follow our A to Z to take the pain out of the pleasure.


Aloe vera juice is a star player when you’ve overindulged. Soothing and supportive to the liver and digestive system, it also contains potent detoxifying amino acids. Alternating between still water or fruit juice and booze will help you pace yourself and lessen dehydration.


B vitamins are decimated by drinking and vital for the nervous system and the processing of alcohol and food. Take a high-strength supplement before and after drinking. Bananas are very soothing to the gastrointestinal tract and rich in restorative nutrients and fruit sugars. And the probiotic Bifidus, taken ideally before bed, acts specifically to detoxify alcohol by-products as well as restore good gut flora.


Take 1,000 mg of vitamin C before and after to support the liver in breaking down booze. A supplement to take while drinking is charcoal, which soaks up alcoholic toxins — it will also mop up nutrients though, so this should only be an occasional measure.





Dark-coloured drinks should be avoided if you don’t want a hangover from hell. Stick to paler tipples and your head will thank you in the morning.

Eating before you go out — healthy protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats are the best combination. Exercise will help flush toxins out, but go gently. Taking evening primrose oil before bed greatly reduces hangover symptoms.


Feverfew and rosemary are herbal alternatives to painkilling drugs, aspirin is hard on the stomach and paracetemol on the liver — just what your body doesn’t need.


Glutathione, a powerful detoxifier of alcohol and cigarette smoke, is made up of amino acids found in root veg, onions, garlic and raw egg. One of those amino acids is Glutamine, which has a very healing action on the gut, and a calming, anti-craving action on the brain. Take it in supplement form throughout the season.


Honey is ideal for restoring blood sugar levels and aid the metabolism of alcohol.

Inulin feeds friendly gut bacteria and improves blood sugar control, and is found in dandelion root coffee. An excellent liver remedy, this can replace regular coffee which will only exacerbate dehydration and morning-after jitteriness.


Juicing is an easy way to pack in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables for fast relief.


Kudzu, a natural supplement, is proven to lessen the desire for alcohol and minimise the after-effects of boozing.

Lemon juice taken first thing in a big glass of warm water will kickstart detoxification.

Milk thistle is the herbalist’s choice for hangover prevention and cure. It increases levels of glutathione and not only protects the liver while drinking but helps repair cellular damage afterwards. Molybdenum is a mineral found in lentils, cauliflower and peas which helps break down and detoxify alcohol.


Nuts and seeds, an excellent source of many of the nutrients lost during drinking, especially the calming minerals magnesium and calcium. Many people swear by the homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica to counter all the effects of over-indulgence.


Omega oils, which protect the cells from free radicals produced when alcohol is broken down, help clear the head and lighten the mood.


Potassium is vital for restoring water balance as well as good acid/alkaline balance and kidney function. Good sources are bananas, tomatoes and avocado.


Coenzyme Q10 supports the liver in detoxifying body and brain, and can boost flagging energy. Best taken in supplement form.


RU-21 or Lifeline are preparations targeted specifically at preventing hangovers, based on natural ingredients like charcoal, vitamins B and C etc.


Soup is warming nourishment in a bowl. Try curried lentil and vegetable.

Picture: PA Photo/JupiterImages Corporation.




Turmeric — add it to that soup for its powerful pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and brain-boosting properties.


Unrefined foods, especially blood sugar-balancing and calming carbohydrates like potatoes, brown rice, wholemeal toast and oats, are all good treatments. Oats are particularly useful for hangover-induced ‘nerviness’.


Vitamins and minerals are leached from the body when you drink too much and under-supplied by party foods. A high-strength, all-rounder supplement is an excellent safety net at this time of year.


Water. Drink a big glass before bed to stave off the worst effects of dehydration, and sip still water or herbal teas throughout the next day to replace lost fluids and flush out toxins.


Xylitol, a natural sugar substitute, is a great tool in the fight against the see-sawing blood sugar levels that create cravings, mood swings and weight gain.


Yoghurt — plain and bioactive — will soothe your poor stomach and help replace the detoxifying bacteria wiped out by booze. A banana, yoghurt, almond and honey smoothie is a palatable breakfast choice.


Plentiful in nuts and seeds and seafood, the mineral zinc has antioxidant, healing, immune-boosting, energising and stress-management properties, and promotes healthy skin and glossy hair — to see you through the season in style.

FAST FOOD: Juicing is an easy way to pack in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables for fast relief.



12 Books books...



POLAR opposite books are worth considering for gifts this Christmas. Coco is a collection of recipes from 100 contemporary chefs, some of them well known worldwide such as Alice Waters, Ferran Adria (El Bulli) and Gordon Ramsay. A beautifully presented hardback, many of the recipes are a bit off the wall, chefy and showy rather than helping us to cook them. However, those that don’t are exciting and are great fun to try. At its best, Coco can help us to be cutting edge at home and yet not spend all day cooking. I made Trinity Burned Ice Cream from London-based Kitty Travers who sells from La Grotta Ices, her mobile ice cream van. The method is quite different from other recipes with the custard cooked in the oven instead of having to stand over it. The result is silky smooth and rich and is spiked with crunchy caramel. A real find. I also made a delicious butternut squash soup topped with whipped goat cheese. For those recipes alone, the book is worth its F35 (approx) price. For fairly experienced cooks. From Phaidon. IN contrast to Coco, Darina Allen’s latest book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking, will be bought by beginners and the experienced who have an interest in local ingredients and how they can be used, with lots of variations from basic recipes to stylish food for special occasions. A good measure of warmth is added in a recipe for pheasant braised with Cork gin, while recipes for old fashioned treats such as Eve’s Pudding and Apple Charlotte provide perfect comfort food. As we sift through 700 recipes, all worth trying and none more complicated than they have to be, it’s easy to be confident in Darina’s skills and extensive research. A section on household management with tips for natural cleaning agents is timely. Great value in hardback at F30 from Kylie Cathie.


For children, the best new cookery book is the Silver Spoon for Children. Lively, colourful and fun, it has recipes for making pasta, with stepby-step drawings and a simple sauce to go with it as well as other pasta dishes such as Baked Macaroni with Parmesan. There are instructions for roasting a leg of lamb, making a chicken stew with olives, how to whip up some ice cream with frozen berries and a very simple orange cake — all good encouragement for children to cook real food which adults will enjoy too. In hardback, reasonably priced at about F17 from Phaidon.


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Yummy gifts


Quality food is a welcome present for Christmas


UST one week to go before Christmas, and for those who still have presents to buy, then festive food bites are quick to pick up and always welcome. And for the devoted foodie there is always the ultimate gift: a cookery course. When shopping bear in mind the suppliers. We need more than ever this year to support local businesses that produce and sell them. 1. Three top chocolate treats can be found in The Chocolate Shop, English Market, Cork with bite-sized chocolate ladybirds (F1) from Caffrel and hanging chocolate Christmas decorations made by Cocoa Bean in Kerry (F4.95). While it’s hard to beat the shop’s loose dark chocolate covered whole cherries, my current favourite chocolate is Amadei Toscano Black Cioccolato Fondente Extra from Pisa, Italy. A rich, silky smooth bar with 63% cocoa solids in a sophisticated wrapper, it will appeal to those who know their chocolate — an excellent stocking filler for adults. Also in delicious milk chocolate with toasted nuts, F4.50 for 50g. 2. One of the nicest new chutneys around comes from Posh Nosh based in Rathcormac, Co Cork. Spiced Orange Chutney is a blend of finely sliced oranges with white wine, vinegar, sugar, cloves and cinnamon and no additives. The bal-

Roz Crowley ance of spices, bitter and sweetness with a hint of booze is just right to serve with seasonal leftovers, and heated up makes a quick, delicious sauce for duck and goose. I liked it with spiced beef too. For a stylish treat, try heating it and pouring over ice cream. Available in some Centra and Supervalu stores and independent retailers. 3. A new treat for Cork food lovers is the new premises of On the Pig’s Back in Douglas Woollen Mills. Drive all the way around to the back where the shop also has a relaxed café serving good lunches and snacks. Lots of oils, wines, cheeses and plenty of treats to give as gifts and cook with over the festive season. 4. Longueville House, Mallow, has a terrific rage of products made from what is grown on the estate. A dip made from apples, soya, ginger and garlic is a healthy and tasty mix, and there are liqueurs, prunes in apple brandy, biscuits, and various combinations which can be put together in gift boxes and hampers. Tel: 022-47156, 5. Cookery classes make excellent gifts.


Ballymaloe courses are the stuff of well-deserved legend, and their latest catalogue is true to form. For details log onto: I was hugely impressed when I recently visited The Tannery in Dungarvan where a cookery school is fast becoming established. The kitchen is state of the art and chef Paul Flynn has a lovely touch, inviting guest chefs from time to time. They also have a great offer of a stay for two nights, December 29 and 30. Dinner on the first evening is in the Tannery Restaurant and on the second evening in the Tannery Cookery School Dining Room for a relaxed dinner watching Paul cooking for you. From F220 6. Top quality organic olive oil in an elegant long box with an excellent pouring spout from winemakers Avignonesi is available from Karwig Wines, Carrigaline. 500ml for F9.99 is the current reduced price. A good suggestion from Karwigs for wine to go with Christmas Pudding is Pfeiffer Rutherglen Muscat 500ml F17.60 — rich, fruity and delicious. Also available on line and from selected wine retailers such as the very good Eugenes in Kenmare where owner Alain Bras will be giving wine courses next year. 7. The Buche de Noel from Sugar Café and Patisserie is rich and chocolaty and makes a wonderful family gift. F12.95 for four generous servings, F24.95 for eight. Last orders today: and 021-4806530.




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Drink to a safe season T HIS coming week is likely to see a lot of alcohol consumed, as people all over the country celebrate Christmas with more than a little enthusiasm. But a little moderation would probably go a long way, considering that alcohol-related social problems, such as violence, public disturbance, poor work performance and family problems, are imposing a serious burden on Irish society. That’s according to a new report published by the Health Research Board (HRB), which includes an analysis of data from the Garda PULSE system. “Survey research has shown that one in five people said they experienced harm to their friendships, home life or work, or were involved in fights in the previous year as a result of their own drinking,” says Dr Deirdre Mongan, research officer at the HRB and co-author of the report. “The likelihood of this happening was highest among those who engaged in risky drinking every week and lowest among those who did not engage in risky drinking at all. This is not a coincidence.”

BOTTLED UP: Alcohol is related to 60 medical conditions and Christmas is a time when we can forget this.

Picture: iStock

Deirdre O'Flynn MOSTLY MEN

The report also reveals that one in four people experienced negative consequences as a result of someone else’s drinking, such as family trouble, financial problems, assault, vandalism or being a passenger in a car with a drunk driver. All of these have a higher probability of happening over the festive season, as families are thrown together for longer periods of time and friends and family try to arrange lifts home from pubs and nightclubs. Alcohol consumption is related to 60 medical conditions and leads to premature death from disease, accidents and injuries. According to the report, alcohol-related offences rose from 50,948 in 2003 to 66,406

in 2007. The typical offender was a young male aged 24 years or under. Half of all offences were committed at the weekend. Just under half of adult offences occurred between midnight and 4am, with a peak at 2am. “It is important to remember that alcohol-related harm is not restricted to the

Flexible work patterns can beat recession stress

Combating sudden cardiac death

IRELAND has experienced one of the deepest recessions and most rapid rises in unemployment as well as increased income tax levies for those in work. And stress has been a growing issue for Irish workers. That’s according to Michael Barth, Regus regional manager for Ireland, Germany and Nordics. Regus, a supplier of workplace solutions, has just launched a global survey of over 11,000 corporations. Stress appears to be greater the bigger the company you work in. Over 60% of employees in larger firms (more than

CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) has developed a website ( designed to highlight public awareness of sudden cardiac death among young people. The tragic condition, which has risen sharply in recent years, has been highlighted as a result of the sudden death of a number of high-profile athletes and well known celebrities. “The shocking reality is that over 5,000 people suffer from sudden cardiac death in Ireland annually, of which 60 to 80 are young people under 35 years of age,” says Michael Greene, chairman of CRY, pictured here. All services are free, regardless of financial circumstances.



1,000 employees) reported higher levels of stress, versus 54% of people in SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). Regus believes this may be due to the fact that the potential for downsizing is greater in larger firms. Barth says one of the most significant factors in reducing stress levels is helping to maintain a healthy work-life balance. By implementing flexible workplace solutions, employers can offer the ability to work in whole or in part from home, hot-desking in multiple locations, or on-call working facilities as needed.

STRESS RELIEF: If the pressure is starting to mount as you clear the desk at work, get those final gifts, or finish preparations at home — reach for Rescue Remedy. In addition to the drops or pastilles, think of Rescue Cream, F7.95 for 30gm. It’s a soothing cream that can be applied to hands, face or body. Rub a little on your temples to get rid of that headache and it’s also a great moisturiser to help protect against dry skin. If you like to chew gum, you could also try the new Rescue Gum, F4.99. If seasonal worries or plans are keeping you awake at night you could try RestBites, F12.99 ( a chocolate-covered bed time snack made from pumpkin seeds.


drinker,” says report co-author Dr Ann Hope. “The drinker’s personal choices are affecting their family, innocent bystanders and the wider community. People need to think about their drinking habits, not just in relation to their own health, but also in terms of the impact they have, or may have, on others.”

DId you know...

It takes 4,625 steps to walk off a mince pie (Source: British Heart Foundation)

Festive DENTALRemedies CARE PARTY REMEDIES: The liver is the organ that primarily deals with all the excesses of the festive season, such as rich food and alcohol. Solgar's Milk Thistle/Dandelion Complex, F25, combines liver-supportive herbs such as dandelion, milk thistle and turmeric, or try Irish Organic Herbs Liver Cleanse & Detox, F18.50 which the staff at Nelson’s Dispensary suggest you take throughout the festive season or as a NewYear detox. Nelson’s also stock Emergen C, which contains a high dose of vitamin C as well as B vitamins to replenish and rehydrate the system after a night out. Mix a sachet, F1 each or F26 for a box, with juice or water. Emergen C is also recommended by online health store

POP A PILL: Homeopathy offers many natural remedies to help relieve the symptoms of over-indulgence in food and drink like heartburn, bloating, constipation and hangovers. Nux Vomica is the first remedy to think of with a hangover headache or if you have eaten or drunk too much and feel nauseous. Take one Nux Vomica 30c pillule half hourly and stop once symptoms improve. Nelsons Nux Vomica 30c, F8.25, and is available from pharmacies and health stores, or call Nelsons Homeopathic Dispensary, Duke Street, Dublin 2, where you can mail order on 01-6790451.


SWEET TREAT: According to Higher Nature we consume on average 6,000 to 7,000 calories on Christmas Day — four times a woman's daily recommended intake and more than three times a man’s. They estimate it takes 45 minutes of dancing to work off that bowl of trifle or a 40 minute walk to burn off the calories in a slice of Christmas cake. It's no wonder therefore that, on average, people gain about 5lbs over the festive season. If you are watching the calories why not substitute Higher Nature's ZyloSweet F7 for 300g or F10.60 for 500g in some of your recipes or drinks. It's made from the natural sweetener xylitol and tastes like sugar but has 40% fewer calories.




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It’s a colour you can have fun with for Christmas as you value the...

LUSH GIFT-WRAPPING WHATEVER about the insane olfactory assault on your nostrils that the Lush stores may be guilty of, we have to admit we're a bit of a sucker for their bath products. Plus, they've got a great little selection of stocking fillers and gift ideas for Christmas. Moreover, we're rather impressed with their new take on gift-wrapping, inspired by Japanese culture. The stores have introduced scarves (F4.95) to be used instead of wrapping paper. Sourced from vintage stores, the scarves are reusable and a more environmentally friendly — and pleasingly quirky — option.

Emily O’Sullivan


OLD. Eek. Wearing make-up that makes you look like a Christmas decoration reeks of naff. Gold is wheeled out every year as make-up companies scramble to get their “holiday” collections on the shelves. But if you’re thinking that this year’s gold incarnation is about as high-style as a Slade Christmas single, think again. Gold has catwalk credentials this year. Long before we were immersed in tinsel and glitter, some of the world’s top designers were using gold make-up for their autumn/winter catwalk collections. As opposed to being the last word in tacky, gold is opting for a strong directional look this year, although for anyone scared off by gold glitter eyeliners or a strong, metallic eyeshadows, there is a more subtle route with gold-flecked blushers and playful, glitter nail polishes. For the festive risk-takers, a gold lipstick, such as Giorgio Armani’s Art Deco Lipstick in No94, F35, set against a pale, matte face and teamed with a nude eye really makes a bold statement. One of the most popular — and easiest — ways to wear gold is on the eyes. Molten, glittering, 24-karat eyeshadows look beautiful set against porcelain complexions, on both blondes and brunettes. Go for the right tone for your skin colour — and don’t be afraid to try darker, antique golds. For fake-tan addicts, keep your gold tones lighter and brighter rather than bronzey, or you’ll be sailing dangerously close to Paris Hilton territory. For a more modern look, go pale — gold comes into its own against a divinely pale complexion with lashings of black mascara and a 1950s-style flick of liquid eyeliner.

The news on ...


GOLDEN moments

There are lots of glitter liquid eyeliners out there, but you need to apply them heavily to get the effect — you’d be better off going for an eyeshadow if you’re after a big-statement glitter look. Try 17 Glitter Eyeshadow, in Gold Digger, F5.29 — it’s easier to apply than loose pigment and is cheap enough for a festive dalliance. Before you apply it, opt for a primer or use a nude cream eyeshadow as a base to prevent your face turning into a glitter ball. Metallic, shimmery gold eyeshadows are a lot easier to wear, and there are very flattering, pretty shades out there from MAC (Gorgeous Gold), Urban Decay (Eldorado) and Clarins (Gold Attraction Eye Palette), so shop around for one that suits. The idea of using gold on the skin is

quite a frightening one. Yes, we’ve all had disastrous brushes with bad gold body powders, in the past, but if you steer past dusting your décolletage and focus on adding a little touch of gold highlighter to your cheeks, then the result can be impressive. Jemma Kidd’s Dewy Glow All Over Radiance Crème in Iced Gold, F18.36, is one of the best, gold highlighters around — it can be used all over the face to give a pretty, golden glow that enhances your natural beauty without even a hint of the Goldfinger effect. If you want a product that adds more of a golden glimmer to parts of the face (lips, brow bones, eyes, cheeks), then try Benefit’s Gilded, F21. It comes in pencil form, catches the light in pretty ways, lasts for ages, and is easy to apply.

WAVY HAIR TAMERS A SEXY Veronica Lake-style ‘do is in this season, which is good news for wavy and curly-haired types. But central to this look is sleekness. Make the most of your hair with a product specially suited to turn those waves uber-glam tresses. Bumble & Bumble Curl Conscious Nourishing Masque, F21.55. A bit expensive, but this is a product that you don’t need to use every day (once a week is fine). It should be left in for 10 minutes and leaves hair feeling well nourished and conditioned. Score: 8 L’Oreal Professionel Techni.Art Hairmix Glam Wave, F17.95. A pricey product that works very well, although scrunching in mousse may be too much of an ’80s throwback for many of us. It doesn’t dry crunchy and you can set nice curls by drying sections of hair around your fingers. Good for thick, dry curls. Score: 8 Aveda Be Curly Shampoo, F20.50, & Conditioner, F22. When Aveda’s Be Curly range launched there was very little on the market like it, but now cheaper ranges have curl-specific products that are more competitive on price. Still, this is a lovely combination that soothes curly, unruly hair. Score: 8

STUFF WE LIKE Benefit Moonbeam, F26. Moonbeam is a great little radiance enhancer that brings a glowing beauty to the cheeks. You can use it over foundation for a little glimmering shimmer, or do as we do and mix a little with your foundation for a burst of radiance for big nights out. Chanel Shimmering Tweed Highlighter, F51.38. A more indulgent palette, this little highlighter has darker, bronzey hues that make it a little more wearable — like a goldish bronzer. It also can look pretty mixed with other eyeshadow shades for a touch of gold loveli-


ness without an OTT overkill. Essie Nail Polish in Gold Nuggets, F11.99. If gold make-up isn’t up your street, then how about a gold nail polish. Filled with sparkly festive cheer, this little offering from Essie if affordable and fun. Giorgio Armani Art Deco Silk Lipstick in No 94, F35. It does look scary at first and is a big change for women schooled in dusky pinks. But this bold gold lipstick is great for anyone after a strongly “on trend” Christmas look. Clarins Gold Attraction Face Palette, F60. Beautifully packaged in a sleek compact, this golden powder is very light

— so you’ll get a shimmery glow rather than too Christmassy a look. Definitely more suited to evening than day. MAC Eyeshadow in Gorgeous Gold, F15. This pretty gold eyeshadow will take you beyond Christmas into next spring — it’s a failsafe shimmering shade that will look pretty whatever the weather. No7 Highlighting Star Palette, F18. This is a good one for Christmas because of its multi-purpose edge. It can be brushed all over the face for an all-over glow (go easy, though), or else you can use the individual shades to dab on the eyelids or cheeks. Not bad value either and a


good Christmas present. Bobbi Brown Chrome Eye Shadow, F24. Available in three limited edition shades, these pretty eyeshadows are pearlised and super-pretty. Go for the Gold Metallic and finish off with a sweep of glossy liquid eyeliner. Party make-up in an instant.




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Megan Sheppard Do you have a question for Megan Sheppard? Email it to or send a letter to Feelgood Irish Examiner City Quarter Lapps Quay Cork

MY husband has rosacea, I do not know if it is genetic or not, it appears to be aggravated by alcohol, especially red wine and certain foods. Is there any treatment that we can use that alleviates it, as it can be quite annoying for him? A. Rosacea is indeed exacerbated by alcohol, along with caffeine and processed, spicy or pickled foods. Chemical skin and hair products can also cause a flare up, and many people are even triggered by sunlight. I recommend that you log onto the internet and visit, a website set up by Georgie Holbrook from Texas, who has successfully healed herself of ‘incurable’ rosacea through nutrition, and emotional therapy. She started her journey by getting her bodily systems back into balance, and changing her internal pH level.

phytum is the homeopathic form of comfrey, also known as knitbone). Weleda have an arnica symphytum preparation which is readily available at most health stores. Q. Aged 70, I was diagnosed with psoriasis this year. I am already on medication for atrial fibrillation and osteoporosis for a number of years. In May, my dermatologist prescribed Dovobet ointment, but I do not like to have to continue using this product in a vain attempt to keep the condition under control. Constipation is an ongoing problem, as is dealing with dry, itchy skin. I would love to hear of any herbal or alternative treatment

Q. I have been taking Fosamax for the past 10 years. As a result of a fracture I started a course of Advanced C Jointin. I now have problems with my throat and my doctor thinks it is from taking the anti-inflammatory tablets with the Fosamax. Could this be possible? A. I can’t imagine why the Advanced C-Jointin capsules would react with the Fosamax, particularly resulting in throat issues. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) certainly cannot be taken alongside Fosamax, since they work together to more than triple the likelihood of gastric ulceration (a side-effect common to both types of medication), but these are a completely different group of anti-inflammatories to the natural supplementation you are taking. What is important with this particular combination is not to take the supplement and the Fosamax at the same time, simply because the Advanced C-Jointin may in fact decrease the rate at which the Fosamax is absorbed. You can either choose to change the Fosamax (alendronate sodium), or the Advanced C-Jointin. Fosamax does carry a slight risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw, and necrosis of the shoulder, knee and hip in certain individuals, particularly when taken as a long-term preventative medication. Biocalth is an ideal substitute, since the calcium is already bonded with threonic acid (a metabolite of vitamin C), which boosts the calcium absorption rate to 95%. Most calcium supplements are absorbed at a rate of around 10-25%. Biocalth has no known side-effects and is available from most pharmacies and healthstores at around F17 for 90 capsules. Other options for natural supplements to treat fractures include MSM by itself (usually at a dosage of 1000mg, three times daily with food), and a combination homeopathic preparation of arnica with symphytum (sym-

COFFEE WOES: Drinking coffee can exacerbate Rosacea. Picture: iStock



HINKING of investing in a Nintendo Wii this Christmas? It might seem like the perfect gift, but the video game console could leave you with more than just a dent in your finances. Experts warn that inflammation of the wrist, knees and shoulders — as well as torn ligaments — can be the result of hours spent playing Wii games. They’ve coined ‘Wii-knee’ and ‘Wii-itis’ (pronounced ‘Wee-eye-tis’) to describe the phenomenon. And with Wii consoles sales set to increase in the run-up to Christmas, doctors could see more patients with Wii-related problems this year, too. Unlike its predecessors, the Nintendo Wii boasts accelerators and infrared, 3D motion detectors on its wireless computer console, which renders the game more physically chal-


which would assist, please. I am on Warfarin and Isoptin, but I am still prone to palpitations. I take Protelos 2g and Calcichew D for osteoporosis. A. Dovobet, as you no doubt already understand, will in fact only work to mask the symptoms, rather than addressing the root cause. It is a combination of two medications — the corticosteroid betamethasone, and the vitamin D analogue calcipotriol. In fact, vitamin D is often beneficial in treating psoriasis, with the most effective method of application being 20 continuous minutes of natural light on the skin daily. This is more difficult at this time of year, where most of the skin is covered up before going outdoors, however, it is important to remember that even if you can’t see the sun shining, the rays will still work their magic. Excluding or significantly reducing your intake of common allergens such as wheat and dairy can also help to manage psoriasis symptoms, and will help with the constipation issue as well. Oily fish (such as mackerel, salmon, kippers, herrings, sprats, trout, sardine and pilchards) is another valuable addition to the diet due to the active ingredient, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Themba, a herbal cream made by The Little Herbal Company utilises the powerful properties of Kigelia africana (also called the ‘sausage’ tree, due to the shape of the fruit). Apply the cream morning and evening to help with itching and flaking. Themba is available from health stores and Health Matters (8 Grafton Street, Dublin, 01-671 0166). While the constipation may be a side effect of the medication you are on, a large glass of water with psyllium husks stirred in will do wonders since it is linked with heart health, intestinal health, and lowering cholesterol. You will need to stir in around a tablespoon of psyllium (do adjust the dosage according to your needs — some people are fine with just a teaspoon, while others take 2 tablespoons) and drink it before the husks form a thick gel. Take this mixture first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The psyllium works to soften the stools, but also helps to draw out toxins, and remove waste material which can become trapped in the projections and folds of the intestinal tract and colon. It is also useful in the treatment of diarrhoea, since it helps to bind loose stools together and give them substance.

lenging than its standard counterparts. Users can play simulated games like tennis, bowling, golf and baseball, or be taught how to hula hoop or do a ‘downward dog’ in yoga. But all this fun hasn’t been without its drawbacks. While the games have been praised for encouraging people to be more active, playing them incorrectly, or for sustained periods, can lead to injury — especially for those unused to exercise. One such injury, Wii-itis, is characterised by pain in the shoulder or wrist and is usually the result of sudden movements incurred during tennis or running games, which can then stretch or tear tendons. Some doctors, such as Dr Dev Mukerjee, have warned: “It’s possible Wii-itis may lead to rheumatism or arthritis later in life,” he


By Kate Hodal says. “Patients often have inflammation of the shoulder or wrist.” Wii injuries are so common that several websites and blogs have been set up to account for them, such as Wii Injury and Wii Have A Problem — US talk show host and fitness guru Michael Torchia claims Nintendo is concealing the dangers of its product. He also argues that Wii could actually be contributing to the obesity epidemic in America by brainwashing people into thinking they’re exercising when, by any proper definition of ‘exercise’, they’re not. To be fair to Nintendo, they provide good safety advice in the product and if you follow it you shouldn’t get into trouble.




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Feelgood 18-12-2009  

Feelgood is a health and wellbeing supplement published by the Irish Examiner every Friday.

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