Make healthy choices this festive season, and enjoy your X-mas

The festive season is already with us, there is going to be lots of wining and dining in the next couple of weeks. However, prudence is required in order to avoid the health risks usually associated with all the merry-making. Everyone should selectively make the healthiest choices for food, drink, and behavior as they celebrate Christmas, either with family or friends.

Let’s start with food. If the dishes are full of meats, it’s best to select well-cooked pieces. Meats can easily get contaminated with bacterial organisms during processing, which can only be eliminated with thorough cooking. Thus under-cooked meats can cause various diarrhea and vomiting diseases. White meat is healthier than red meat, so chicken and fish should be choice items. Leaner pieces are much healthier than pieces laden with fat. Adding complex carbohydrates, like boiled potatoes to the plate, complements the healthy selection.

Salads and vegetables are a healthy choice at the dinner table. But they can also harbor a lot of disease-causing organisms. It’s best to ensure all raw salads and vegetables are thoroughly washed, and in some cases sterilized with commercially available fluid solutions. The same goes for fruits, they must be thoroughly washed with clean water if to be eaten whole. The alternative is to peel fruits, thus reducing the potential for ingesting any bacteria on the fruit surfaces.

Desserts are generally safe, but they add to the amount of calories consumed. It’s best to go for smaller portions or low-calorie options. This goes some way in limiting the amount of weight gain over the festive season and reduces the stress of trying to lose it much later.

What about drinking? Fresh fruit juices and lots of water are the safest bets. Alcoholic drinks tend to be commonplace in festive feasts. Binge drinking is best avoided, which is the consumption of too much alcohol in a short period of time. The main risk is acute intoxication, which at worst can be fatal. There are other longer-term health risks like liver disease, hence drinking in moderation should be the key. Pregnant women should definitely avoid alcoholic drinks as much as possible, and if any must be consumed, this should be the smallest amount possible. It’s best not to drive after alcohol consumption, better to spend an uncomfortable night in makeshift beds than to end up dead on the road.

A lot of unwanted pregnancies happen in the festive periods. This is facilitated by too much partying and is more common in adolescents. Apart from unwanted pregnancy, unsafe sex can lead to sexual infections including HIV, and have a longer-term effect on future fertility. Condoms are a safe bet to prevent sexual infections, and emergency contraceptive choices are readily available for those not on long-term contraception.
Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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