How to eat healthy during the holidays
As the Covid-19 pandemic may give rise to overindulging, be mindful to take small servings and eat slowly
With Christmas just around the corner, 'tis the season for indulging in festive feasts and paying less attention to healthy food choices.
But this year, the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects will likely scale up overindulgence, according to Allium Healthcare senior principal dietitian Mary-Ann Chiam.
She told The New Paper: "(With safe distancing measures), there will be more to eat with fewer people to share the calories.
"People still crave variety and a nice spread. Also, social distancing means less conversation among people and they can focus on just eating."
The food choices Singaporeans make have also been compromised due to the pandemic.
For instance, those who are still working from home and experiencing fatigue and depression may subconsciously make poor food choices.
Food deliveries have become more prevalent, and the habit and convenience of ordering food plus home baking are also contributing factors in adding inches and pounds.
And as people are confined within our borders due to travel restrictions and the need to clear annual leave during this period, they have more disposable income and time to spend on eating out at restaurants or ordering takeaway, without being aware of the hidden salt and fat traps of such offerings.
Ms Chiam said: "Social media pictures of appetising meals will cause most of us to give in to overindulge.
"Generally, the more colourful and shiny the meal looks, the more calories, hidden fat and sugar are present."
Ms Chiam also dishes advice on how to eat right for the holidays.
It is common to feel pressured when one is invited to partake as a guest at a gathering. How can one avoid overindulging?
I suggest speaking to the host a week before going and offer to bring a healthy, hearty vegetable-based dish or low-fat appetiser and explain that you have a special diet. This way, you provide an alternative without offending the host.
What should one eat more of amid Christmas offerings?
If one stays well hydrated, does not skip regular meals and has a small snack before going for a festive meal, then one should be able to enjoy the festive treats without overindulging and feeling guilty.
Eat slowly and pay attention to your body's hunger and satiety signals.
It is okay to eat but take small servings.
Some healthy options include fresh fruit and salads with vinaigrette.
How does one keep track of sugar intake?
Drinking five to six cups of water before a meal will keep you hydrated and ensure that you are less likely to drink sugary drinks.
Examples of festive-looking but low calorie and low sugar drinks are iced soda water or water with celery, cucumber or mint.
What is an acceptable amount of alcohol to consume this season?
Cocktails contain a lot of calories, so limit yourself to one to two standard drinks and remember to stay hydrated. Always drink in moderation.
One to two standard alcohol drinks are recommended, but do not exceed more than four standard drinks a day or limit to 10 a week.
How can diabetic patients feast right?
Stick to a normal meal schedule as much as possible and try not to skip meals, keeping in mind your personalised meal plan that takes after the healthy plate model.
You may have a small serving of the holiday dessert, as long as it is less than 30g of carbohydrates. You can also substitute some of the carbohydrates from your meal for your dessert.