How to Survive Christmas Feasts and avoid the risks of overeating
Food has always been an enjoyable way to celebrate occasions. This is why feasts are staples in every household during the Christmas season.
Among us Filipinos a common Christmas feast consists of litson (whole roasted pig), diniguan (pork blood stew), creamy fruit salad, honey-cured ham, hot chocolate, puto bumbong and bibingka (Filipino rice cakes). These goodies may sound appetizing, but many of them are indeed very rich in cholesterol and calories; and have very high sugar content. They are not meant to be eaten all at once but many of us do anyway because of our indulgent Christmas mindset. As if there is no tomorrow, this mindset of “pwedeng kumain ng marami kasi pasko naman, minsan lang to” (“I can eat a lot because it’s Christmas, and this only happens once”) is often used as an excuse to pig out and overeat.
Over the years, medical authorities have reported illnesses and ailments spiraling up during the Christmas holiday because of this overindulgent eating behaviour. Some of these health risks include indigestion, which can result to bloating or fullness in the abdomen, constipation or the failure to defecate, diarrhea or loose bowel movements, heartburns or tightening of the chest, and in severe cases heart attacks brought upon by a blockage in the coronary artery.
Everyone can avoid these health risks by practicing some self-control and by following our eight tips to stay healthy this Christmas season.
1.Remove the indulgent Christmas mindset. Stop thinking that you can eat as much as you want just because it is the season to be jolly. Eating is a way to celebrate the holidays and not an excuse for gluttony. It is also not a justification to break your diet. Even before the start of the season, focus on keeping a healthy lifestyle and commit to it. You would eventually slide into this habit until the Christmas parties. You will surprise yourself when you realize that you can actually say ‘no’ to the delectable but sinful treat offered to you.
2.Be conscious of food portions. Obviously, big servings mean more fat being stored in your body, so try to portion your food accordingly. Especially during Christmas buffets, resist having two to three servings of anything. You can taste all the dishes but make sure you just ‘taste’ it or have smaller portions. Smaller portions can actually make you feel fuller in the end. This rule is applicable to alcohol consumption as well. Limiting yourself to two glasses of wine is a healthy amount.
3. Eat breakfast. It is a general rule not to skip breakfast because it jumpstarts and speeds the metabolism. Having something in your belly early on lessens your chances of gorging on food during your Christmas lunch or dinner.
4.Choose green. Try to avoid high fat and sugary treats. Desserts are laden with refined sugar which piles the kilos and drains your energy fast. Opt for the healthier dishes, by healthier we mean those that contain more vegetables and fruit. Sometimes this might seem impossible at a Christmas feast but you ought to pick the food you know you will not regret eating later.
5.Drink lots of water. A glass of soda is equivalent to eight sugar cubes. Nobody wants all that excess sugar so replace these high-calorie drinks with water. Water not only keeps you hydrated, flushes out toxins from your body, but also makes you feel fuller. Drinking glasses of water before a Christmas feast may stop you from pigging out. Alternating water with your alcoholic beverage will also slow your drinking.
6.Eat slowly. It takes about fifteen to twenty minutes for your brain to send out signals of fullness. Eating slowly allows ample time for the brain to send these signals and make you feel full. Feeling fuller can prevent you from over eating.
7.Get enough sleep. Parties are frequent during the holidays and can make a person lose sleep. Lack of sleep slows the metabolism and makes a person crave for caffeine or sugary treats all the more because of the body’s need for quick energy. Make sure you get enough sleep so that you have a better chance of burning all the food you have consumed and not going after the desserts at the end of the table.
8.Walk. Controlling what you eat is just as important as exercise. It is not rocket science that you need to keep an exercise regimen to stay fit and healthy, but if the holidays have affected your schedule then simply walk. Walking is a good and stress-free way to burn calories.
It is all right to enjoy what Christmas has to offer since it is the season for celebration. However, everyone should just practice self-control and mindful eating because no one want to be sick and bed-ridden when it is time to open the presents.