Survival Tips for Noche Buena
Combine holiday stress, high blood pressure, and Christmas ham: what do you get? One of the riskiest holidays in the Philippines for hypertensives and diabetics.
Hospital admissions increase three-fold during the Christmas season. This trend includes cardiovascular incidents, according to a survey of Metro Manila hospitals. Dr. Anthony Leachon, foundation president of the Philippine College of Physicians, said that the figures were higher compared to only about 30 to 50 cases that were reported from January to November (Jaymalin, 2015).
Although we’re not saying that Noche Buena is to blame for these numbers, we can’t forget that the food served during the traditional feast contain high amounts of fat and oil. This could spike the body’s cholesterol levels, which increases the risk for cerebrovascular accidents like stroke and heart attack. So to avoid such risks and to prepare everyone for the Noche Buena season, we have a couple of tips to keep your health in check:
1. Rest well.
Allow yourself to recover from the stresses of the holiday season. It’s one of the longest weekends of the year, so make sure you get some sleep. Don’t force yourself to stay awake just to socialize. Pulling even just one all-nighter can prompt your body to release hormones that induce eating and weight gain (Dr. Lawrence Epstein in Passarella, 2014).
2. Prepare a well-balanced Noche Buena.
You can’t forget about salt, sugar, and cholesterol restrictions just because it’s Christmas. Eat moderately and wisely. You simply cannot compensate for overeating fatty food by promising to eat more vegetables the next year. And definitely don’t think that a serving of fruit salad makes your dinner “balanced.”
Also, don’t skip lunch so you can eat more for dinner. This promotes belly fat storage and increases risk for insulin resistance (Kliewer et al in Caba, 2015).
3. Stick to your drug regimen.
Don’t skip any doses of your maintenance medicines. We’re talking about your statins for cholesterol (Simvastatin, Atorvastatin, Rosuvastatin), your antihypertensives (Losartan, Amlodipine), and your antidiabetic (Metformin). Make sure you always have them on hand so as not to miss a dose.
4. Get help.
Seek immediate medical attention when you experience the following symptoms: dizziness; pain in the jaw, ears, neck, and nape; fatigue; and difficulty breathing. These may be the early signs of a heart attack. Rushing to the emergency room on a Christmas day might be a hassle, but it may just save a life.
Now, these tips may come off scary for such a festive season, but these are important reminders to make sure that we all have a healthy and happy holidays.
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Caba, J. (20 May 2015). Skipping meals promotes belly fat storage, increases risk for insulin resistance. Medical Daily. Retrieved from http://www.medicaldaily.com/skipping-meals-promotes-belly-fat-storage-increases-risk-insulin-resistance-334384.
Jaymalin, M. (7 December 2015). Doctors warn: Holiday stress can be fatal. The Philippine Star. Retrieved from http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/12/07/1529968/doctors-warn-holiday-stress-can-be-fatal.
Passarella, E. (2014). 17 Holiday health tips. Real Simple. Retrieved from http://www.realsimple.com/health/preventative-health/holiday-health-tips.