Updated: Jan 7, 2021
Goodbye 2020. What a year we have had! I'm sure we are all looking forward to Christmas. There has been so much human loss that it's scary. Of course, we want to celebrate but I am writing this article to show you what can happen during the holiday season - this isn’t to put you off enjoying the holiday but only to ask you be a little bit more responsible.
Heart attack during the holidays
If I asked you how many people die from their first heart attack and in which time of the year, would you be able to answer?
Would it shock you to learn that 50% die of their first heart attack? Would it surprise that most of the incidents occur between Christmas and New Year and why would it surprise you?
The office parties
We have worked very hard in an extremely difficult time this year; some from home and everybody else social distancing but, it is party season and, despite the restrictions, some of us are really going for it.
Christmas is still a week away but the photos being posted on social media are scary. Drinks followed by roast turkey with greasy gravy and a fabulous mixture of drinks, of course, at some point we put our masks on and take a break for a smoke, is it beginning to sound familiar? Someone I know posted a photo at the hairdressers and she was sipping a glass of bubbly at 11.00 am, I thought hairdressers couldn’t offer any drinks during the pandemic but maybe I’ve got it wrong. Some have already done the Christmas dinner several times!
Christmas day (one of my experiences)
Picture the scene; its Christmas day and a glass of champagne (alcohol) hits me on arrival, the table is beautifully decorated and full of yummy food, we have all the cold cured meats (salt), the beautiful bread rolls and breadsticks (carbs) and a variety of flavoured snacks such as crisps and crackers (more salt).
The house smells like a confectionary shop because a lot of the food is displayed out for friends and family to help themselves, I am talking about all the dry foods like dates, figs, nuts, chocolate (sugar) and, of course, the turkey, with all the trimmings, will shortly make an appearance.
Enter the kitchen to say hi and the hosts are cooking and sipping wine (alcohol) at the same time because it's Christmas…they are already a bit tipsy by the way. A group of friends have popped out for a cigarette (smoke) and a bit of fresh air!
Dinner was lovely, compliments to our hosts. Enter the Christmas pudding with brandy cream (fat, sugar and alcohol) accompanied by a nice vintage sherry from Portugal (more sugar and alcohol) and coffee (caffeine), at this point we are beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable, let’s pop out for a bit of fresh air, good idea let's try the Cuban Cigars! (smoke).
We are back inside chatting and drinking (more alcohol) and then I hear, pass the After Eights (more sugar) but it's ok because it’s chocolate with mint and so is good for our digestion! Now we are all sitting down and at this point, I'm thinking, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," because as they can no longer stand up the, “let’s have fun with Milvia,” starts: "Is that the same glass? You've had that for hours…come on its Christmas and, you eat and drink like a little bird." (Nothing wrong with my diet, thank you very much)! It goes on. Eventually, it's time to leave, but no, let's have one for the road!
What wakes me up on Boxing Day if I stay over is the smell of bacon (fat/nitrates). That’s right, because we read somewhere that’s exactly what we need if we get up with a headache and queasy stomach.
I enter the kitchen but, my cheerful good morning doesn’t go down well but, I am happy it's Boxing Day. I am feeling great because I eat and drink in moderation and I have a day off! Sitting at the table a few are wearing sunglasses because it's too bright, eventually, the realisation that a fry up doesn’t resolve things is upon us, so it's time to look in the bathroom cabinet; out come the aspirin, the paracetamol and the heartburn remedies (toxins) and, they all affirm they will never do that again!
I made it sound comical but it's very sad for me to observe this behavior and, what is even more disturbing is, to watch the personality change due to the alcohol.
The family would have received food and wine (alcohol) as gifts (most of the food is unhealthy). A rich meal followed by Christmas pudding, caffeine and more wine and sherry or brandy (alcohol) accompanied by another cigar (smoke) is the perfect mix for cardiac problems such as atrial fibrillation and stroke. This behaviour is of course repeated on Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year's Day.
Put simply, celebrations which involve the consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks cause unnecessary deaths. The cardiologist Phillip Ettinger called it the “holiday heart syndrome” in 1978.
These holiday foods also cause rapid weight gain not only on your waist but also increase visceral fat which is the most dangerous as it attaches to the organs.
What if this Christmas we did things a little differently? What if this year we celebrated the real meaning of Christmas and gave thanks for what we have and, spared a thought for all those families who lost a dad or a grandad or in my case my older brother due to this awful pandemic? Let's enjoy Christmas but remember to:
Exercise, go for a walk and feed the ducks in the park (I love doing that) before the big meal. If you haven’t time for a walk, go outside and do 20 burpees. This will help you metabolise your food faster and lose weight.
Remember to have water on the table and drink it in between alcohol, this will help to prevent you from having a hangover.
Plan Christmas by talking to your family and friends, suggest a healthy Christmas dinner if possible ( I have done it myself) include raw organic vegetables like celery, carrots, fennel, radishes, cucumber, and olives (good fat), who doesn’t like olives? Raw vegetables are a tasty starter and there are a variety of organic healthy dips to go with them. Raw vegetables also contain water among other vitamins and minerals, so they keep you hydrated.
Have breakfast cereal with berries, so when you are hit with a glass of champagne on arrival it won't go straight to your head.
Try to persuade your guests to go for another walk before you serve pudding.
Please don’t kid yourself that this will never happen to you as, ultimately, what will kill you is your lifestyle. The statistics are real, this Christmas, eat and drink in moderation, keep hydrated with plenty of water and take regular exercise. This year make it a Merry Christmas, not a “Merry Christmas Coronary”.
Wishing you and your loved ones a healthy and peaceful Christmas.