Don't follow Oprah's example

The year is drawing to a close and we're already caught up in the madness of the silly season. Everyone's rushing around trying to finish their work so they can go on holiday. Stress levels are high and most of us are already suffering from festive-season overindulgence.

By the time Christmas and New Year are over, most South Africans will be much heavier than at the beginning of November, and their livers and gallbladders will be wrecked.

Oprah’s fall from grace
This week, The Times featured an article entitled“Oprah: How did this happen again?” in which the journalist poses this pertinent question to the popular TV star. The writer refers to Oprah’s gain of 18kg.

In 2006, she weighed 72.5kg, but in a feature in her flagship magazine O, she has confessed that she now weighs in at 90kg.

Oprah says her weight gain started early last year when she experienced problems with her thyroid. She also mentions that she recently started exercising regularly and following a healthy diet to try and reverse this trend. But she could possibly have started earlier and prevented much of the weight gain.

Is this how you are going to feel after the holidays? Frustrated and overweight? Will you also be asking, “How did this happen to me?”

Hopefully you'll have put on the brakes much earlier and will avoid the worst excesses of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. If you've overindulged in November, now is the time to do something positive about shedding the weight you've gained, preventing more fat deposition during the next 4 weeks and resuscitating your liver and kidneys.

10 tips to prevent Christmas weight gain

  • Start doing daily exercise for at least 30 minutes or more a day. Go for long, brisk walks, or swim if you're at the sea, or use the gym at your timeshare, or buy a skipping rope for yourself and get active.
  • Only eat half portions of all the tempting foods put before you. This enables you to taste the festive fare and not make your hostess or mother upset because you're refusing the meals they've been slaving over for days, without piling on the kilos.
  • Substitute a light, low-fat meal for every indulgent meal you eat. Have fruit and fat-free yoghurt for breakfast on days when you're going to participate in a banquet!
  • Even better, eat light, fat-free meals on those days when you're not going out or being treated with artery-clogging meals.
  • If you eat at a restaurant, make clever choices. For instance, select salads with grilled fish and fruit sorbet instead of roast turkey and Christmas pudding.
  • Drink liquids such as energy drinks or fruit juices diluted with 50% water or ice cubes to help your kidneys and liver cope.
  • Have a sugar-free soft drink or soda water for every glass of alcohol you drink.
  • If you have overindulged with fatty foods and alcohol, take Essentiale, Prohep, Guronsan or vitamin B complex to help your liver recover.
  • Get plenty of rest – late nights make you sluggish and tired and interfere with your exercise programme.
  • Remember to take your medications such as thyroid hormone replacement therapy or Glucophage to control insulin levels.

Life can be fun over the Festive Season without overindulgence. You can have a super holiday and enjoy treats without ruining your health and gaining 10kg in the space of a month. But you'll have to apply some common sense when it comes to eating, drinking and exercising.

Don’t let go like Oprah did. Don’t fall off the food and drink wagon. Rather be proactive to ensure that Christmas 2008 doesn't turn into a diet and health disaster.

(Dr I.V. van Heerden, DietDoc, updated April 2011)

(The Times (2008). Oprah: How did this happen again? The Times, 11 Dec 2008, p. 3)

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