By anguillian December 25, 2017 10:27 Updated




Many of us here in Anguilla associate Christmas with eating lots of food and having a joyful time with family and friends. Unfortunately, much of the eating is unhealthy and can have serious consequences for our health both in the short term and long term. You can have an enjoyable and healthy Christmas if you follow some simple steps.

Weight gain during the holidays
The holiday season is about family and food – and all too often many of us put on a few extra pounds to our waistlines. This is often difficult to get off later in the year. In order to maintain a healthy weight, we need to balance the amount of food we eat with the amount of energy we burn. We do not all need the same amount of food. Many factors, including age, gender and physical activity levels, affect how many calories we should consume each day. We have to be careful how many calories we use during the season. We must watch the portions of food we use at parties and family get-togethers. We must eat until we are satisfied, not stuffed. We can savour our favourite holiday treats while eating small portions.

Watch the salt
Many of the foods used during the holidays have lots of salt (sodium) – foods like canned soups, and ham have lots of salt. When shopping for ingredients to prepare your holiday meal, compare the labels to find lower sodium varieties. Instead of using lots of salt, use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavour during the season. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables to use in your dishes.

Be active
Being physically active throughout the entire year is important to maintaining a healthy weight, and is even more important during the Christmas season. Exercise can help relieve some of the holiday stress and prevent weight gain. A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. Try 10- or 15-minute brisk walks twice a day. Yes, I know you are very busy at this time but you must find the time for some exercise. After the big Christmas day meal, how about a game of cricket, football or some other sport involving family members? This can surely help burn some of the calories after such a big meal.

Keep an eye on those drinks
For many of us Christmas means lots and lots of drinking. We must be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating. Non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar. Use lots of water instead of sugar laden drinks and use alcoholic drinks in moderation.

Stock the freezer with healthy meals
Most of us are very busy during this time – and most of us want to spend our time shopping, decorating, or seeing friends and family, which leave less time to cook healthy meals. You can take some steps several weeks ahead of time by cooking meals intended specifically for the freezer. You can then use these foods around the holidays rather than using unhealthy foods.

Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun during the Christmas season. Enjoy the holidays, plan a time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and do not restrict yourself from enjoying your favourite holiday foods. By implementing a few simple tips you can stay healthy through the Christmas season.


Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.
Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

By anguillian December 25, 2017 10:27 Updated


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