MANILA, Philippines–This advice from a health expert surely won’t spoil your Christmas: Forget the diet and eat whatever you want. But make sure you maintain your weight throughout the holiday season.
Dr. Sheryl Tugna, an endocrinologist, said resisting “temptations” spread out on the table during the Christmas season could be tough for Filipinos, especially those who are on a strict diet and a weight-loss regimen.
“Sticking to a diet to lose weight is very hard during the holiday season so what I can advise is weight maintenance,” Tugna said at a recent health forum in Quezon City, stressing the importance of keeping body weight in check all year round to avoid obesity, a risk factor for a plethora of debilitating diseases.
But she added that one must resume his diet or weight-loss program right after the holiday season.
Every year during the Christmas season—the longest celebration in the country—health experts try to remind Filipinos to eat and drink in moderation to curb the increasing prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases, such as heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.
The Department of Health (DOH) has said that heart attacks and strokes peak from December to January, making the holiday festivities in the country “bad for the health” of Filipinos.
Keeping a healthy weight is also essential in preventing obesity, a risk factor for diabetes—one of the top 10 causes of death in the Philippines, according to Tugna, an expert from the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.
3.2M with diabetes
In 2013 alone, there were 3.2 million Filipinos recorded with diabetes, accounting for 6.01 percent of the country’s 54.5 million adult population. Diabetes, if not controlled, can cause blindness, leg amputation, kidney dialysis and heart attack.
Tugna said Filipinos could avoid getting sick with diabetes or aggravating their condition, especially during the holiday season—when sugary and fat-laden foods are overflowing—by kicking the bad habit of smoking, avoiding alcohol, exercising and maintaining an appropriate weight.
Tugna advised that one must check one’s weight prior to all the merrymaking and partying. Whatever number appears on the weighing scale must be the same when one checks it again after the festivities, she added.
“Telling yourself ‘No’ is very hard during the holiday season but keeping things in moderation is a major key in being healthy during the holidays,” she said.
Tugna enumerated ways to keep one’s weight in check without passing up on all the good food and the merrymaking during the holidays.
— Use a smaller plate when eating, as your mind will consider it full regardless of the size.
— Don’t skip meals. This may cause intense hunger.
— When eating at a buffet, take a little of many things instead of lots of one thing.
— For every glass of alcohol or soft drink, chug down a glass of water.
— Don’t prepare a lot of food or you will consume everything.
— Use herbs and spices to flavor vegetables rather than cream or butter.
— Trim as much fat in meat before cooking.
— Serve fresh fish or seafood instead of red meat.
— Eat anything on the table, but stop once you feel full.
— Forget about taking home leftovers from the party.
— Do not finish the food if you are not enjoying it.
— Skip the buffet restaurants.
“If you overeat this Christmas season and you feel guilty about it, then stop being lazy—do some exercise,” Tugna said.