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December 16, 2017
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December 16, 2017

Ham, pastelle, ponche de crème, sorrel… Not for everyone!

The Christmas season and New Year’s celebrations are times of merriment, food and drink with family and friends. There can be overindulgence and the consequences—upset stomach, raised blood pressure or insulin levels…hangovers. All can be avoided. The Catholic News got advice from dietitian Kimberly Suraj about how to do this.

  1. Everything in moderation we know, but moderation is how much?

KS: ‘Eating in moderation’ is a common term many dietitians may say or talk about. However, the term may be too vague and a bit difficult to measure. The issue with the term ‘moderation’ is that it is very subjective; it can mean many different things to different people. My idea of moderation could be infrequent (never) while another’s idea of moderation could be frequent! My idea of a small piece or slice could be a bigger piece or slice. It also does not apply to persons who may have a medical condition and need to avoid certain foods. The key to moderation is about finding the right balance between two extremes—deprivation and overindulging. Eating in moderation is not a licence to eat whatever we want when we want. One, serving sizes are attached to each food item and serves as a guide to help us not be deprived nor overindulge. Serving sizes is a topic dietitian try to educate patients and clients about so that they have a better understanding of how much really should be used. When in doubt, of course use small sizes and less frequent. There are also some strategies that we can use that can help us use foods in moderation, if we do not know serving sizes, such as:

  • Out of sight out of mind—by using a small bowl or Ziploc bag you can use or serve smaller portions of the food item and then put the packet away to avoid mindless eating.
  • Portion distortion—using smaller plates and bowls to serve portions so that it would look bigger.
  • Eat slowly. You’ve heard it before but it does take your brain and body a while to register that you are full. Eat meals at a slower pace and chances are you’ll be satisfied with a smaller portion.
  • Keep the leftovers in the kitchen, not on the table. Keeping the extra servings off the table and away can help avoid overeating.
  • Hungry or thirsty? – It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger and snack more frequently than normal. Try to keep a bottle of water by your desk and keep sipping during the day to stay hydrated.

Remember “Everything in moderation… including moderation” ~ Oscar Wilde

  1. During the Christmas holiday we eat different types of things: spicy, sweet, acid. How can we avoid stomach problems when we really want to enjoy and sample everything?

KS: Persons suffering from “GERD”/ Acid Reflux, it is safe to advise that they should limit spicy foods, ponche  de creme and any other alcohol, avoid overeating, foods that are high in fats (fried foods especially, pastries), and black cake because of the alcohol. These persons can choose alternative foods that do not irritate their stomach.

  1. What specific things should persons with particular ailments avoid?

KS: Many family gatherings and festivities are done during the Christmas period. Everyone, especially diabetics are advised to stay within their serving sizes and guidelines prescribed by a dietitian, or eat smaller meals and spread them throughout the day. They should avoid partaking in sweets and then taking medication to counteract the consequences. Usually at Christmas time paime, black cake, other cakes and sweets are used. It is advised that family members use either less sugars or moderate use of artificial sweeteners in their recipes, or have alternative dessert items for their loved ones with these conditions. Hypertensive persons, should avoid using ham, cured, processed, salted foods, as well as seasonings high in sodium such as jerk seasoning, Maggi, golden ray, seasonings with the ingredient sodium or MSG (monosodium glutamate), having too much barbeque sauces, soy sauce, salted snacks, pigtail, energy drinks such as Lucozade, Gatorade etc., drinks high in caffeine such as coffee, black tea, coke, pepsi, mountain dew etc. Use fresh green seasonings or salt free seasonings in making pastelles and other food items.

  1. What is the rule of thumb for these individuals who still want to partake of some of the Christmas dishes?

KS: I believe in “prevention is better than a cure”. Therefore use alternative food sources that would not cause any further health deterioration and complications.

  1. What processes does the body go through when stuffed with food?

When stuffed with food the effects of that is feeling sluggish, lethargic, blood sugars may spike due to overeating, and acid reflux would act up.

  1. As a trained dietitian is the after-Christmas period a time when persons show up with conditions made worse because of excesses at Christmas?

KS:  Yes I do see more overweight and or obese persons looking to lose weight. They may have been overweight before Christmas period and Christmas time threw them even further into gaining more weight. This usually ranges from children to adults. I also see many diabetics, whose blood sugars tend to be out of control after the Christmas period. – LPG