Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Healthy holiday eating

Published:Tuesday | December 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Dr Vendryes

THE CHRISTMAS holiday season is intended to highlight love, joy, and peace. It is, however, often misused and becomes a time for self-abuse and overindulgence. This is especially apparent in the way many of us eat and drink during Christmas time. The very foods and beverages that modern medicine warns us to eat and drink in moderation are consumed on an unprecedented scale.

I would guess that more sugar, more salt, more unhealthy fats, more alcohol, and more highly processed foods are swallowed in late December and early January than at any other time of year. More medicines are consumed, more medical emergencies occur, and more people feel unwell as a consequence of this. People also gain more weight at Christmas than at any other time. The commercialisation of Christmas is designed to make it so.

Please don't get me wrong, I am no kill-joy, but I must appeal to your common sense - let moderation be your guide. There are some common pitfalls that I would suggest that you avoid.

Eat out carefully

Business and staff lunches, family dinners, and parties are the order of the day for many of us. Be careful of what you eat at these functions.

Focus on eating more healthy protein: fish, skinned, defatted poultry (organic if possible), beans, peas, nuts, eggs, lentils, and soy protein. Protein helps to control your appetite while stimulating the body to burn fat while preserving your muscles. Avoid fatty, processed, or fried meats and pass on the accompanying gravy.

Skimp on the carbohydrates: the bread, toast, rolls, or crackers served before the meal. Cut to a minimum or eliminate the rice and ground provisions served in the main course.

Fill up with fibre: Fill your plate with salads and vegetables. Use the protein and vegetables to create a feeling of fullness before dessert. Have a small serving of dessert and make it fruit if possible. Avoid the sugar.

Snack wisely

There are now more tempting snacks that are more readily available than ever. Deliberately cut back on the quantity of cakes, puddings, biscuits, chocolates, biscuits, sweets, and soft drinks in your home or office. Stock up on healthier snacks like hummus, nuts, protein bars, fresh fruit, and raw vegetables.

Drink less alchohol

Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and virtually empty of nutrients. If you want to avoid weight gain, you must minimise your consumption of alcohol. The chart below lists the caloric content of some common alcoholic drinks.

Alcoholic Drink Amount Calories

Beer, regular, 12 ounces - 149

Beer, light, 12 ounces - 110

Vodka, 2 ounces - 130

Whisky, 2 ounces - 130

Gin, 2 ounces - 130

Brandy, 2 ounces - 130

Rum, 2 ounces - 130

Wine, red, 4 ounces - 80

Wine white, dry, 4 ounces - 75

Wine white, sweet, 4 ounces - 105

Champagne, 4 ounces - 84

Remember that most of the popular chasers we add to the alcohol contain a lot of additional calories.

Soft drinks, fruit juices, sweetened sorrel, and other popular drinks are also loaded with sugar and calories and must be consumed with great moderation. Make water your favourite drink for the season and aim to have one half ounce for each pound of body weight each day. Protein shakes, herbal teas, soups, fresh fruit, and vegetable juices, sorrel with ginger and little sugar, or alcohol and coconut water are other healthy options. Avoid highly caffeinated drinks.

Be more active

Use it or lose it: Get your body moving to stimulate your metabolism to burn the extra calories you consume. Dance, walk, play games, go to the beach. Do whatever you need to do to increase your level of physical activity. Try to get outdoors and get more exercise, sunshine, and fresh air. If you have eaten too much, try doing some physical activity as soon as possible afterwards. The research shows that this will decrease weight gain and lift your spirits.

Many people know what they should do, but they lack the focus, the discipline, and the structure to get the results that they want. We all do better with the right assistance and encouragement. Here are some excellent support systems with which I am involved:

Get a wellness coach: I have been involved in training hundreds of wellness coaches located all over the island. They will provide the information and support for you to succeed with your wellness programme, especially at this time of the year. The service is free, and they also offer a valuable yet free wellness evaluation.

Attend nutrition or fit club: These are members clubs set up all over the island designed to provide the support, information, education, products, and programmes to assist people to improve their nutrition and fitness and manage their weight. We specifically teach the benefits of a nutritional programme called cellular nutrition combined with simple fitness classes for all levels. Optimal wellness is a blend of 80 per cent nutrition and 20 per cent exercise, and we show you how to achieve this.

Feel free to contact us for information on finding a wellness coach, nutrition, or fit club near you.

Make the commitment

Decide to go through the holiday season with your health and wellness in mind. Plan to end this year on a healthy and positive note. I wish for all my readers a healthy, holy, and happy Christmas.

You may email Dr Vendryes at His new book, 'An Ounce of Prevention - Mainly for Men', is available from his website,, or local bookstores.