The festive season has begun and it's the perfect time to gather with family and friends over a meal. However, enjoying the holiday season shouldn’t mean your diet goes on a holiday too!
With many decadent temptations at every meal, it is easy to be merry and overindulge. But giving in to too many temptations might cause adverse health effects that last long after the holidays.
Here are a few healthy tips you can follow to holiday-proof your diet.
Sugar & spice (in moderation!) makes Christmas nice
Typically, festive food includes meats, seafood, sweet desserts and drinks, and alcohol. A diet rich in these foods, however, can cause a spike in uric acid levels that may lead to gout and an increased intake of sugar that can contribute to risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Gout occurs when uric acid accumulates in your blood and form urate crystals, which accumulate in joints and cause inflammation.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body can’t produce or use insulin efficiently, leading to high levels of blood sugar that cause damage to the body:
Excessive intake of sugar leads to increased fat storage inside the liver and around internal organs, leading to the body resisting insulin action
Blood sugar levels are increased and the pancreas needs to work harder to produce more insulin to maintain normal levels
If this process of increased blood sugar continues, the pancreas will eventually be unable to keep up with increasing insulin production, leading to type 2 diabetes
Here is a list of foods to watch out for:
Sugary drinks and sweets. Standard table sugar is half fructose, which breaks down into purine and then into uric acid. High intake of sugar also leads to weight gain which is a risk factor for diabetes
Refined carbohydrates. Foods made with white flour and white sugar (such as bread, cakes, and pasta) and white rice are considered refined carbs. These foods are easily digested into glucose, leading to a spike in blood sugar levels. It also leaves you getting hungrier faster, driving overeating and increasing the risk of obesity
Alcohol. Alcohol prevents your kidneys from eliminating uric acid and causes it to accumulate. Regular heavy drinking reduces the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and most alcoholic beverages contain a lot of calories which leads to weight gain and obesity
Animal meat. These include organ meats like liver, and red meats like beef, lamb and bacon. Animal meat is high in purines and studies have shown that red meats and processed meats can contribute to the risk of type 2 diabetes
Certain seafood. Seafood like herring, scallops, mussels, codfish, tuna, trout and haddock are high in purines as well
This does not mean you have to be miserable and abstain from yummy dishes while celebrating!
Apply smart strategies such as using a small plate to take these dishes and alternating between non-alcoholic drinks and alcoholic drinks can help control your intake.
Bless yourself (and others) with the gift of a healthy balanced diet
So now that you know what foods to eat in moderation at your next party, you also need to include healthy foods that can give enough nutrients to be jolly this season.
Choose dishes with lots of vegetables and fruits, such as vegetable soups or salads. Eat these first to not only ensure sufficient fibre in your diet but to make you feel fuller and avoid overeating on the main dishes
Go for dishes with whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta or wholegrain bread, which have a milder effect on blood sugar levels
Opt for fish and lean meat as sources of protein. Fish such as salmon and mackerel are high in omega 3-fatty acids that are good for the heart, while lean meats have lesser fat content
If you are a host, plan your dishes to include more of these healthy foods and consider cooking dishes that are stir-fried, steamed, grilled or boiled instead of deep-fried.
Have a healthy, jolly Christmas! But don't forget your health screening
All in all, find a balance but don’t forget to enjoy yourself this season!
If you are above 40 and have a family history of gout or diabetes, or have a high Body Mass Index (BMI), you can consider going for a health screening for peace of mind. Prevention and early intervention are better than cure.
Intemedical offers comprehensive health screening packages that include screens for lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, and blood test to check uric acid levels. More information can be found here.
For inquiries, you can contact us via Whatsapp (88799404) or landlines (Potong Pasir - 6242 6384 Kovan - 6243 3036) from 8 am to 12 am daily.