Holiday gorging

Published November 17, 2019, 12:27 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



“Tomorrow the enlarging of consciousness by diet and breathing.”

 W. H. Auden (1907-1973), Anglo-American poet, Spain(1937) l.72

Dr. Jose Pujalte Jr.
Dr. Jose Pujalte Jr.

Yes, it’s that time of year.

In a few weeks, school, office, and club Christmas parties will have started and if you’re not careful, you will be a blimp by January, 2020. We are so used to mindless eating that it becomes acutely worse now because, as a rule, holiday food is fattening. You only need to eat a little to get fat but who doesn’t eat a lot in the holidays?

WebMD featured an article by John Casey giving ten tips for the “five-or six-week long smorgasboard.” (Americans start bingeing on Thanksgiving which is late this year on November 28). He culled the wisdom of weight management experts for a fighting chance in the battle of the bulge this Christmas season.

Ten holiday eating tips. 

  1. Don’t diet during the holidays. In the Filipino milieu, dieting in Christmas is social suicide. What’s the first thing a hostess would say in a party? Isn’t it “Kain na!” (Let’s eat!). If she could shove food down your throat, she’d do it because it’s how hospitality is shown. And indeed what’s the point in showing up in a Filipino party if you won’t eat? The operative phrase is eat in moderation. The general strategy is to hang on to the weight you have pre-holidays and not gain anymore. 
  1. Pace your eating. This is the opposite of mindless eating. It means paying attention to not only what you pop into your mouth but also how fast you chow it down. To eat slower, imagine a food TV commercial and that you are the model. Doesn’t the model savor the aroma, take just a bit of the food and eat like it’s the world’s most expensive corned beef? Do the same with the Christmas fare. 
  1. Limit alcohol. If you must drink, go lite beer or wine. Mixed drinks pack in the calories. Alcohol not only loosens the tongue but makes food taste better as well. The upshot is more eating. 
  1. Don’t go to a party with an empty stomach. This may seem a bit foolish but if you skipped lunch because of a Christmas dinner party, you will surely eat more. The recommendation is to eat a little protein – fish, chicken, cheese before going out – so that you won’t be ravenous (“takawmata”). 
  1. Watch the food portions. We all know the fat person who insists on diet soda and low fat chips but would have a six-pack and three bags. It doesn’t make sense. To control the amount of food on the plate, use a smaller It’s easier to fill up a platito than a plato. Also, in a buffet, go variety rather than just a big plate of spaghetti (for example). 
  1. Continue exercising. You don’t have to be hard-core to fit in 30 minutes of exercise four to five times a week, particularly during the holidays. Aerobic activity is known to boost metabolism and this translates into burning more calories well past the end of the actual exercise. 
  1. Bring your own low-calorie (or low-carb) dish.This of course is understood in the context of potluck parties. The idea behind this is that in an array of traditional Christmas food like ham and suckling pig and native rice cakes, you’ve got a fall-back dish that won’t nozzle up the insulin. 
  1. Ease up on the fast food. It’s bad enough that the most evenings this Christmas is a class reunion or an office party. Will breakfast or lunch mean high fat fa(s)t food too? A healthy breakfast of oatmeal, high-fiber cereal with fresh fruit offsets a less than nutritional ideal the night before. 
  1. If you are the host, serve low-calorie Make available fat-free salad dressings and sugar substitutes. Serve fruits and vegetables. After all, the traditional display on Filipino Christmas tables includes imported fruits like apples, oranges, pears, and grapes. Just make sure they’re ripe and edible.
  1. Decide on what to eat. This is the core strategy of weight management. You are in control of what food (or drink) is taken. Christmas food no matter how tempting has no power over someone who chooses what to eat and how much to eat. 

Welcome to the holidays and happy, sensible eating!

Announcement: To pledge donations to the Pontificio Collegio Filippino, home in Rome for Filipino diocesan priests taking up postgraduate studies, please email us at [email protected] This was a small request by classmate turned priest

Fr. Gregory Gaston. 

Fact/Factoid.Dark chocolate has flavonoids (antioxidants) that are good for the heart.

Dr. Pujalte is an orthopedic surgeon.