Managing eating habits during festive seasons


By Gladys Nweke

Christmas is a time of great festivity and a period to eat meals not usually consumed during the year.

In that period, such meals are usually loaded with sugar, saturated fat as well as salt; much higher than the daily doses that we are used to.

Where there are underlying conditions such as diabetes, it can be very tasking to manage your situation, with the array of alluring dishes on display at various parties.

In order to manage your health a lot more effectively, some tips could go a long way to ensuring better management of your eating habits at Christmas and other festive seasons.

If at a party or a buffet, load up on vegetables first. It will help to fill you up easily without packing on the calories.

Watch the size of your portions. Be careful with carbohydrates such as ‘fufu’ pounded yam or ‘swallow’ as we call it in Nigerian parlance. A large portion of these would spike your blood sugar levels and could make you feel drowsy and lethargic.

Be careful with sweets or desserts, as well. Cakes, ice cream and other sugary forms of dessert could also be substituted with the healthier option of yoghurt or fruits.

Alcohol is usually a big part of holiday celebrations anywhere in the world and Nigeria is not an exception.

Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach. It could cause you to throw up and result in immense pain.

For weight watchers, some alcoholic drinks contain a lot of calories, such as liquor with high sugar content as well as cocktail drinks, which are made with fruit juice and other sweet drinks.

Also, cream liquors which have become quite popular, are high in saturated fats.

Do not be influenced by the choices of others, especially at buffets and other public events.

Loading a portion of fried rice and chicken, with egusi soup, fufu, stewed beans and plantain, all on one plate, washed down with a bottle of malt and beer thereafter, could prove to be quite a gastric experience.

Stick to the rules and be careful with your combinations.

Do not rush your meals. Chew them slowly. Researchers say it takes probably 10 to 20 minutes for your brain to register the fullness of your stomach. But if the meal is rushed in excitement, you could end up adding more food and overeating in the process.

Give your brain time to process ingested food.

Form the very good habit of piling up on the vegetables and that should be a major portion on your plate.

Proteins will also fill you up very quickly. These include beef, fish, eggs as well as beans. But do this in moderation.

Most important of all, drink lots of water to aid digestion.

Christmas festivities are often a good time to indulge. When confronted with food temptations, especially at parties and restaurant buffets, these tips would help to serve you better while still feeling full after eating.

The goal is not to under-eat but to eat appropriately, while still being smart with your choices at the same time.