Health Wise
December 22, 2015
Eat healthy this Christmas

Christmas is a time of celebration, but it tends to be a time of high-fat, high-calorie foods and excessive alcohol consumption also. Being part of the Christmas celebration without sabotaging your health goals may be difficult, but it is definitely doable. {{more}}The key to eating healthy at Christmas is to plan ahead, taking your own snacks and dishes,ßß if necessary, when visiting friends and family, so that you don’t get caught unawares and end up filling up on unhealthy options.

Generally, patients who are diabetic will consume a bit more sugar, as they indulge in the cakes and sweet drinks, while hypertensive patients may consume a bit more salty food, like salt hams and other processed foods.

It is important that you eat a healthy breakfast on Christmas morning. Include at least one fruit or vegetable and some protein, such as eggs or nuts. This will help to keep off hunger and prevent overeating high-calorie snacks while waiting for the big lunch or dinner to be served. Typically, Christmas breakfast may be delayed because of preparations for the big lunch. Diabetic patients should be mindful that they must eat on time and take control of their glycemic levels. Even persons who do not suffer from these chronic diseases should try to eat on time, as delaying breakfast can cause gas and can aggravate reflux.

Take a nutritious dish to the festivities. Offer beforehand to provide a salad or vegetable side dish, so you can be assured that there will be at least one healthy item at the meal. You should also pack a snack to take with you, in case you can’t find anything healthy to nibble on between meals. An apple or orange and a small bag of nuts make a good portable snack.

Consume a healthy snack or small meal every three to four hours throughout the day. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable and is much healthier than consuming a single large meal. We know that the Christmas lunch will be big, but try not to overeat, as the uncomfortable feeling of being stuffed and suffering from indigestion after is not a nice one. You want to enjoy your Christmas meal.

Load your plate with healthy options first. Instead of heading straight for the calorie and fat-laden side dishes, choose some lean turkey or ham and vegetables for your first plateful. You can have some higher-calorie options when you’re ready for seconds.

Drink a glass of red wine with your Christmas dinner. Red wine is high in resveratrol, a phytochemical that helps fight heart disease and cancer. If you don’t drink alcohol, try a glass of grape juice, or just have plain water instead. Please watch those carbonated beverages.

Practise portion control. Instead of completely depriving yourself of the high-calorie options, try a single piece or just one bite, enough to get a taste, but not enough to leave you feeling stuffed.

Remember, don’t eat food that has been sitting out for more than an hour or two. Bacteria and other organisms can grow rapidly at room temperature and lead to food poisoning. Watch out also for foods that have been prepared with eggs and mayonnaise; if these foods are not kept at the appropriate temperature and are out for too long, they can go bad and can lead to food poisoning.

Remember the key word is moderation. Your health is important. Have a blessed Christmas!

Dr Rosmond Adams is a medical doctor and a public health specialist. He may be emailed at