In Summary

Some of these tips may seem obvious, but sometimes all we need is a little reminder.

Christmas season is the time to be happy and people often celebrate by eating. This often leads to weight gain, food poisoning calling for a lot of caution to avoid over eating because there are many complications that come with this.

Although people have always eaten unhealthily during the year, more care should be taken as the year ends because good handling, storage andproper cooking will prevent you from poisoning and the effects of spree eating. You, therefore, need to be cautious about what you eat and how you clean your food.

Dr Vincent Bakyenga, a general practitioner with Uganda Healthcare Federation, says any healthy meal must be prepared in a clean environment with clean utensils. It is, therefore, important that the person handling food washes their hands thoroughly with soap and water.
“Wash worktops and dishcloths in hot soapy water before and after preparing food, especially after they have been exposed to raw meat, poultry, raw eggs, fish and vegetables,” he says. He also advises that dish clothes should dry before being used again since when wet they are a perfect breeding place for germs.

Also, separate chopping boards for raw food and ready-to-eat food because raw foods usually contain harmful bacteria that spread very easily to anything they touch, including other foods, worktops, chopping boards and knives.
He says, “Store raw meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge where it is not in contact with other foods or drip into them. Cook food thoroughly and check that it is steaming and if you are cooking poultry or beef, ensure that there is no pink meat.”
Keep your fridge on and be watchful about the expiry dates and do not eat food that is past its ‘use by’ date even if it looks and smells okay. ‘Use by’ dates are based on scientific tests that show how quickly harmful microorganisms can develop in the packaged food.

Safe cooking
It may be debatable to cook with or without cooking oil but boiled food is recommended. However, if you want to cook at a high temperature, Dr Pius Mwanja, a general practitioner at Lifelink Medical Centre, advises against reusing the oils because they oxidise over time developing into free radicals. These radicals increase the risk of cancer.
If one must have a safe meal prepared using cooking oil, it is important to learn the characteristics of their fat. Animal and plant oils have very different properties.
“Characteristics such as melting point, ability of the fat to prevent food from sticking in the pans, the temperature at which the oil will begin to emit smoke after heating and the chemical reactivity as fats can be oxidized by air at high temperatures which damages the flavor and is bad for health,” he says.

How to stay healthy
“Some foods have preservatives that cannot be absorbed in the body,” says Dr Bakyenga. These, he says, in turn into toxins that are very dangerous to the liver once they are not released out of the body.
If you eat too much, you may suffer unexplained fatigue, low body immunity, skin irritation, bloating of the stomach and digestive problems which are signs that you have a lot of toxins in the body and the need to detoxify.

Dr Bakyenga adds that it is important to drink a lot of water which dilute the toxins. Taking a lot of antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables are vital in providing minerals that remove toxins in the body.
“Staying hydrated is a good way to help the body and liver detoxify. This is because the toxins will be passed in the urine. Fruits like grapes, apples and vegetables like cabbage, green tea, garlic and hibiscus are good in detoxifying the liver,” he says.

Regulate eating of foods which are high in calorie content but not totally deprive yourself of these. Eat smaller meals and opt for healthy options that you have cooked. Be careful of liquid calories, including alcoholic beverages.
Exercise is just as important during the holidays as any other time of the year. It is, therefore, healthy for you to stay active for at least four times a week, preferably with some aerobic exercises.

Take less alcohol
Many people save for the festive season and are ready to celebrate. Be careful however to exercise regulated drinking. “Alcohol is good if taken with a bit of caution so take less to keep you in a stable condition,” he says, advising that it is better to take more water than alcoholic contents.