Holiday festivities are over, so are the days of mindlessly indulging in irresistible holiday meals. Some of you probably fought a good fight in resisting to eat more during your Noche Buena and Media Noche while the others might have tried at first but gave in and ended up eating not just one but multiple servings of that pasta served on the table. When your favorite holiday dishes are staring right at you, having self-control can be really as challenging as it gets.
At some point, the holiday overindulgence may leave you with a deep sense of guilt and worry over your health, prompting you to go for extreme measures post-holiday such as skipping meals or going on a very low-calorie diet or detox plan in an attempt to undo the damage. However, these extreme diet “fixes” do not offer a sustainable solution and could only set you up for failure.
Instead of punishing yourself by doing drastic measures, do small and manageable changes in your eating habits. Below are just some of the common food tips recommended by the World Health Organization that will slowly but surely help you achieve a favorable health post-holiday and throughout the year.
Eat a variety of food everyday
No single food contains all the nutrients required by our body; even in a specific food group, like vegetables and fruits, different ones offer different nutrients. For example, oranges are high in Vitamin C, bananas are high in potassium, and spinach is high in folate. Eating a variety of food (in recommended amounts) ensures that we are getting a balanced-diet and prevents us from getting an excess of one nutrient and not enough of others. As a bonus, it can also make our food a lot more interesting and less boring.
To ensure variety, aim to eat a mix of staple foods such as wheat, corn, rice, and potatoes with legumes (lentils and beans), plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods from animal sources (meat, fish, eggs, and milk) while taking into consideration moderate intake of each.
Cut back on salt
High salt consumption can raise blood pressure which in turn can increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke in the long run. Lower your salt consumption by following the tips below:
- Use salt sparingly and reduce the use of salty sauces and condiments (like soy sauce and fish sauce) when cooking and preparing foods.
- Limit consumption of snacks that are high in salt; choose fresh, healthy snacks over processed foods.
- When using canned or dried vegetables, nuts, and fruits, choose varieties without added salt and sugars.
- Remove salt and salty condiments from the table and try and avoid adding them out of habit.
- Always check the labels on food during grocery and go for products with lower sodium content.
Reduce the use of certain fats and oil
Fat has always been put in a bad light, especially because it increases the risk of certain conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and stroke. However, you should know that fat can be beneficial too, especially if you’re eating the right types in the right amounts. Below are some tips to get more of the beneficial fat and less of the dangerous type.
- Use coconut oil instead of vegetable oils for cooking. Other sources of good fats are olive oil, avocado oil, and grass-feed butter.
- Choose white meat like poultry and fish which are generally lower in fats than red meat; trim visible fat in meat.
- Limit frying of food when cooking; go for healthier cooking methods such as steaming or boiling that do not require the use of oil.
- Always check food labels and limit consumption of processed, fast, and fried foods that contain industrially produced trans-fat.
Limit sugar intake
High sugar consumption increases the risk of unhealthy weight gain and obesity, which can lead to serious, chronic health problems. The following are tips to lower overall sugar intake all year round:
- Limit intake of sweets and sugary beverages such as soda, fruit juices and juice drinks, liquid and powder concentrates, energy and sports drinks, ready-to-drink tea and coffee, and flavored milk drinks.
- Enjoy fruit for dessert instead of cookies or pastries. If you want to eat pastries, prepare them by yourself and when you can, cut the amount of sugar you use in recipes.
- Read food labels and research restaurant menus online. Avoid high-sugar options.
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Excessive alcohol drinking does not only cause weight gain in the long run but also increase risk of a wide array of health problems such as liver scarring (cirrhosis), cardiomyopathy (heart muscle damage), and certain types of cancers, among others.
If you don't drink alcohol, it is recommended not to start at all just because of the potential health benefits it may offer. Besides, these benefits do not really outweigh the risks. On the other hand, if you are really an alcohol drinker, you can probably continue as long as you drink moderately and responsibly. Moderate alcohol consumption for healthy adults generally means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.
Examples of one drink include:
- Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)
- Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)
- Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)
Be sure to check with your doctor about what's right for your health and safety.
We at Trinity hope that the tips above can help you get yourself back on track this New Year. Always remember that all it takes to live a healthier life post-holiday is to stick to a normal healthy eating routine throughout the year.
- Rolfes, Sharon et.al. Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition. 8th ed., Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. 2009.