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Abu Dhabi: The end-of-year holidays brings with them a slew of delicious meals, and present many of us with a chance to indulge.

Out go the diets and healthy eating plans, leaving many to deal with a post-holiday bulge or the discomforts of overeating.

Doctors are therefore urging residents to remain a little mindful, even during the holidays, and opt for healthy home-cooked meals between the feasting.

“We must remember that eating wrong leads to inflammatory changes in the body. Not only do these worsen existing problems like diabetes, but they also make us generally uncomfortable. So while we all want to indulge during the holidays, it is a good idea to retain healthy eating habits for most meals, for one’s own benefit,” Dr Shabeer Nellikode, managing director and neurologist at Universal Hospitals and Clinics, told Gulf News.

Many people stop dieting during the holidays, which means they suddenly consume a large quantity of calorie-laden foods.

May Al Joudeh, clinical dietician at Medeor 24x7 Hospital, Al Ain, said this is a major cause for indigestion, and leads to a 10 to 15 per cent upsurge of visits to the hospital’s ER at this time of year due to overeating-related complication.

“It is true that there are treats available everywhere you look during this time of year. But what is the use of overdoing it and then being unable to enjoy the season because you’re suffering from dirrhoea, constipation or some other illness? This is why people should try to adopt one or two healthy habits even as they spend time with their friends and loved ones,” she explained.

One of the easiest things to do is to spread out the treats over the season.

“It is a season, so one can be indulgent over a matter of days. There is no need to consume every kind of treat on one day, and then end up feeling unwell afterwards,” Al Joudeh said.

Another option is to cook a few meals at home.

“We all like to treat ourselves, but every meal does not have to be a treat during the holidays. In the end, eating right helps us feel good and allows us to enjoy the holidays with our loved ones,” Dr Nellikode said.

According to Al Joudeh, it may also be a good idea to prepare some treats at home.

“When doing so, we can opt for healthier ingredients. For instance, the amount of butter in a cake can be reduced when it is baked at home, or some of it can be swapped out with vegetable oil or mashed avocado. Dark chocolate can be used instead of milk chocolate in a recipe. These are simple things, but they make a difference when we are looking at days of eating,” she explained.

Eating right during the holidays

  • Opt for water instead of sweetened drinks whenever possible.
  • Cook a few meals at home whenever possible, and keep them healthy.
  • Even if you indulge in treats, be mindful of your portion sizes.
  • Do not skip meals or go out on an empty stomach as this will just cause you to overeat later.
  • Remember to pick healthy, fibre-rich foods when snacking between meals.
  • Spread out treats over a number of days.
  • Prepare desserts at home and include healthier ingredients