OpinionsNeedles in a StackA healthy diet for the holidays?

A healthy diet for the holidays?

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Christmas and New Year holidays are around the corner, and we’re all looking forward to them, not only exchanging gifts, but more importantly the sharing of a special meal with family, friends and relatives. The scrumptious food and delicacies that we prepare for these celebrations are the very centerpiece of them. They symbolize togetherness, celebration, and thanks for all the blessings that we receive throughout the year, and they help us to welcome the coming year with a positive outlook.

Baked ham is one of the most common foods in the menu, and then there are the special imported canned foods such as corned beef, spam, Vienna sausage, pork and beans, etc., as well as imported chocolates to cleanse our palate after the meal. But not to be outdone by the imports, our special native delicacies are also part of the whole celebration, including hot bibingka (a big deal in some provinces especially after evening masses), leche flan, hot chocolate, and puto. Let me not forget the lechon, the star of the occasion because it simply is delicious. A variety of noodles and pasta dishes are often included as a symbol of long life, as well as other traditional family specialities that are often prepared solely for these special occasions.

Well, I don’t want to spoil everyone’s appetites for all these delectable items, but let me just share some reminders and tips to keep in mind in the midst of all this indulgence. After all, we are celebrating the goodness of our lives, and eating healthy foods will make our lives better and longer, so that we have more holidays to enjoy. First, even if we’re eating things that are so delicious (and therefore, in most cases, unhealthy to some degree), we can still be mindful of our health by eating appropriate portions. And we can try and get a couple of forkfuls of veggies into our mouths along with all the good stuff.

While I’m not a dietitian, I want to put in a word for salads, which unfortunately are somewhat rare on the Filipino plate. They’re refreshing, good for the digestion and for your health generally, and they can be delicious. For example, steamed baguio beans cooled and tossed with nuts; add some diced apples or diced pears or small pieces of tangerines, then just add oil and vinegar with salt and pepper (depending on your taste) as your dressing. Or you can just julienne some raw cabbage, carrots and singkamas, add diced semi-ripe mango, and dress it with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and minced ginger, and you get a very nice tasty salad, especially if you let it sit for a couple of hours before eating to help break down the raw cabbage a bit.

Exchanging gifts is great fun, but nothing can top the senses of our taste buds, which are known to induce happy thoughts, and if we add some brains into the mix, we can make sure we stick around for next year’s feasts and many more to come. Happy eating and good health, everyone!

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