Before eating that lechon, read this first


Posted at Dec 06 2010 03:51 PM | Updated as of Dec 07 2010 10:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines - People tend to give in to lechon (roasted pig) and other salty and fatty delights this Christmas, a season characterized by lots of food on the table.

Experts see nothing wrong with it, as long as it's done "in moderation." But how much is too much?

Eating a portion as big as a deck of cards 3 times a week is fine. But for those who suffer from hypertension and heart disease, it should be limited to once a week, according to Dr. Eric Tayag, director of the Health department's National Epidemiology Center.

Monitoring one's consumption of unhealthy foods like these is crucial, he said, as failure to do so may result in serious health risks -- from obesity and fatty liver to diabetes and stroke.

"When at a party, try moving around by walking or dancing so you get to exercise. Don't just stay at your table," he said in Filipino.

It's best to eat only one cup of plain white (or brown) rice per meal, paired with grilled or steamed fish instead of fried dishes.

Dr. Lulu Marquez, a wellness expert, said one's diet should always include different kinds of fruit and vegetables.

For sweets, Marquez said matchbox size portions 3 times a week is okay (once a week if you're diabetic).

"But it shouldn't be just one apple a day. It should be 7 to 9 kinds of fruits and and vegetables, say 3 vegetables and 4 fruits," she said in Filipino.

Experts warned against drinking alcohol, but a bottle of beer and a glass of wine per day is acceptable. If one takes in too much alcohol during the party, he or she shouldn't drive as this may cause accidents which can lead to death.

With these tips, you can still toast to good health this Christmas while eating your favorite sinful treats.

Keep it clean

Of course, before eating that lechon and enjoying your noche buena feast, one should wash and dry hands thoroughly -- even if spoons and forks will be used.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed hand washing and drying as a way to protect people against several infectious diseases -- from the common cold to amoebiasis.

A recent study from the Journal of Applied Microbiology in America showed that bacteria continue to spread with wet hands, even after washing. This, it said, can be addressed by using paper towels to quickly absorb wetness.

The worst option is said to be the traditional hand dryer as it encourages people to rub hands while drying, allowing bacteria embedded in the skin to surface.

Here are some ways to wash hands properly, as listed by local company Sanitary Care Products Asia Inc.:

1. Make sure you wash your hands with soap and running water.

2. Rub hands vigorously for about 20 seconds. Pay attention to the backs of your hands, wrists, between the fingers, and under the fingernails.

3. Wipe wet hands using a paper towel before turning off the faucet. Use the same paper towel to turn off the faucet to prevent recontamination.

4. Wash hands after using the toilet, after coughing or sneezing, after using a handkerchief, disposable tissue, eating or drinking, using tobacco, after handling soiled utensils or equipment, before and after food preparation, and after engaging in activities that contaminate the hands.

5. While outdoors, clean dirty hands whenever you have the chance. Hand sanitizers containing 60% to 90% ethyl alcohol or isopropanol can be used in place of hand washing if you have no immediate access to soap and water.

By following these guidelines, one can eat his or her Christmas dinner sans the health concerns. --, with a report from Sol Aragones, ABS-CBN News

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