The festive season comes with a lot of events and celebrations that are always laden with loads of food meant to keep people happy as they celebrate.
Although it’s hard for one to restrain themselves from eating, especially where there is a variety of foods around, health experts say people should keep in mind the fact that Christmas comes and goes, which calls for responsible eating habits.
The biggest risk is that binge eating exposes one to diseases. According to Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist at King Faisal Hospital, Kigali, gaining excess weight mainly emanates from poor dieting habits. He adds that gaining weight is easier than losing it.
“Putting your health at risk because of unhealthy eating during this short period is easy. This is because most people are involved in partying and they hardly find time to shed off the excess calories they are taking in,” he says.
Other than gaining weight, Tabaro says poor eating habits can bring problems related to one’s general well-being.
Isaac Bikorimana, a Kigali-based nutritionist, says health problems come about when one consumes fatty and processed foods, which is a common practice during the festive season.
“When such foods are consumed, one is likely to develop digestion problems. Similar issues can also come about as a result of eating too fast, overeating, as well as drinking too much alcohol and caffeine,” he says.
Bikorimana points out that when one suffers from indigestion, they are likely to experience heartburn, nausea, bloating and acid reflux which can lead to stomach pain and general discomfort.
To avoid all these, he notes that people should eat slowly, shouldn’t eat while drinking at the same time, as well as not to do any kind of exercise immediately after eating.
Problems associated to poor sleep
On the other hand, Bikorimana notes that during this season, there will be a lot of activities taking place, including entertainment, and most people could end up spending too much time partying into the wee hours of the night, thus less time to sleep.
He adds that not getting enough sleep affects the overall health and lead to some serious medical problems, including obesity, heart diseases and high blood pressure, among others.
Bikorimana further explains that going to sleep immediately after a meal and overeating, can as well interfere with one’s sleep.
“Poor sleep can worsen things like weight gain and reduce brain capabilities,” he adds.
What to embrace
According to Venuste Muhamyankaka, the president of Rwanda Nutritionists Society, one can stay healthy by making sure they don’t skip breakfast.
He explains that the breakfast menu should include fruits, an egg as well as brown bread or porridge if possible.
“For instance, opting for brown porridge is important as it help in stabilising the blood sugar levels, which helps in regulating one’s appetite throughout the day,” he says.
Muhamyankaka adds that the presence of fruits on one’s breakfast table helps boost one’s immunity.
As people will be feasting on a wide range of foods over the festive season, Tabaro says they should not forget to do exercises to keep fresh and healthy.
“For instance, one can do simple exercises such as jogging and walking. This will make one thirsty and possibly drinking more water, which is vital for one’s overall health,” he says.
When attending parties, Tabaro says embracing the habit of filling one’s plate with vegetables and salads is important.
He adds that this limits the chances of one serving a lot of carbohydrate and protein-rich foods which are not good when taken in excess.
Bikorimana notes that skipping meals should also be avoided as well.
For those who are into taking a lot of salted foods and snacks such as crisps, spiced nuts, and steamed soybeans, among others, he advises that going for yogurt and banana as a snack is safer and healthier.
Bikorimana says focusing on a healthy diet ensures good health and prevents risks that come a long with unhealthy eating.
“Ensuring that one consumes foods that have essential nutrients such as fats, proteins, vitamins and carbohydrates is essential. However, this should be balanced and maintained daily,” he says.
Bikorimana says when this diet plan is adhered to, it helps to maintain a healthy weight, which is important as far as staying healthy is concerned.