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Make that holiday checklist a healthy one


The holiday season is upon us and we have every reason to celebrate.  However, there are many who consider this time as a license to overdo the merry-making.  We all know where the extreme can take us.  And we have been informed about the dos and don’ts of wining, dining and partying.


Health hazards

According to Dr. Chris Enriquez (UERMMMC, Yale University, School of Medicine), cardiologist, pulmonologist, radiologist and internal medicine specialist who practiced in the US for 30 years, the time between Christmas and New Year isn’t the real health challenge at all.  What is crucial is our lifestyle after the New Year leading up to Christmas.  In a sense, we are all given a little leeway to be “naughty” for eight days if and only if for 357 days we have been “nice,” and this kind of niceness is what we call wellness.  Be wary of:

Physical: weight gain, high blood pressure/hypertension, high blood sugar/diabetes, accidents, cardiovascular problems/heart attacks

Emotional:  depression, loneliness, stress, anxiety attacks (Rapha Health Center for Longevity and Lifestyle Medicine, tel.7573335)

Vigilant gourmand

Everything tastes absolutely delicious on the Christmas table.  In fact, you might have automatically programmed the mind to grant permission to indulge.

Just by the very word alone, indulging can lead to excess.  There is no reason why you cannot taste everything on the menu.  For as long as you are guided by some rules, then your desires to savor holiday delights will not be dampened.

You can eat as often as you can but in small portions.  The word “overindulge” means going beyond the limits of satisfaction, encroaching into satiation.  Don’t be a glutton.  It’s a crime against good health.

Go for the lean portions of meats like beef, pork, chicken, turkey.

The word “low-fat” is synonymous with non-greasy food.  You can avoid the fat if you want to.  Simply slice it off with your knife.  How easy can this be?  Some nutritionists believe that pork is safer than beef.  This is because pork fat is visible and can be removed instantly, unlike beef whose fat is marbled or embedded within the meat.

You are well-advised to chew well.  In fact, eating on the run is worst on your waistline.  Take your sweet time, as they often say.  Gulping down food puts more burden on your digestive system.  This is the purpose of saliva.  It serves to break down carbohydrates more easily in the mouth. What happens if you chew less than 15 times before you swallow?  You will develop indigestion and stomach upsets.

Oh, the sodas, sugary drinks, alcohol and desserts.  They might be divine to the palate but deadly to the body.  Sugar is sugar.  All it can do for you once it enters the body is raise your blood sugar by stressing the pancreas to release insulin and to compromise the immune system.  So how can anything that tastes so good be bad? True.  But know that you may have your “just desserts” if you are judicial about consuming them with caution.

When it comes to sweeteners, go for coconut sugar or stevia.  They are not artificial or synthetic.  Coco sugar specifically is the recommended sweetener for diabetics (Coco House, tel. 3924115).

Anything green and leafy is nutritious.  Here’s the trick.  You may eat anything you want only after you’ve consumed a salad or a generous serving of vegetables.  Deal?  This is simply because it’s important to get the healthy stuff in you before you go for the not-so-healthy.   Vegetables and fruits are high in fiber and enzymes.  They act as our health guardians.

Pack in as much Omega-3-rich oils as you can.  It’s beneficial to the heart and the brain.  Select saltwater fish over farm-raised (unless you know for sure that the grower practices hygienic standards.) Certain farm-raised fish are given hormones, antibiotics and fertilizers so be cautious.

With all the health warnings about many commercially grown and manufactured food, consumers today are more discriminating and health-conscious.  As much as possible, go organic.  Less chemicals mean fewer health risks in the end.

The best gift you can give yourself is a set of stainless steel cookware.  Aluminum, when exposed to high heat, can poison the food you cook in it.  Moreover, high aluminum levels in the blood have been linked to poor memory and mental lapses.  This applies to aluminum foils too when baking or grilling.

The practice of walking for 20-30 minutes after a meal prevents diabetes.  Wait one hour after a heavy meal to do so.  More than that, it contributes to a good night’s sleep.

No blue Christmases for us.  Statistically, however, this is the time when depression is highest.  While one cannot help but feel nostalgic during the holidays, thinking about loved ones who are deceased or physically distant, over-thinking or over-feeling will not do us any good.

To do

Connect with family and friends.  Do not be alone during Christmas.

Overcome any sadness by keeping yourself distracted and busy.

Surround yourself with happy people.

Donate your time and presence to a charitable institution.  Helping others in need can be healing for you, too.

Holiday scrub: Add some sparkle to your skin.  Slough off dry, dead skin cells. Find anything powdery yet slightly abrasive mixed with your favorite oil.

5 tbsp sugar, finely ground rice or oatmeal

3 tbsp olive oil, virgin coconut oil, sesame

1 whole lemon, seeded and finely chopped with skin on

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Rub on body.

Bathe in a tub of warm water.

Immerse yourself for five minutes.


Affirmation:   “My life is full of miracles.”

Love and light!

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Tags: health tips , Holiday Checklist , Mind and Body , Paskong pinoy

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