Do you notice yourself sniffling or coughing during the festive season, be it during Christmas, New Year or Chinese New Year—or any festivities? You’re not alone. We know that eating a copious amount of junk food is one the main culprits, but Dr Cindy Xie Bo, Family Physician at Healthway Medical Clinic (Bukit Batok West), attributes other reasons to you feeling under the weather. One of them might be all the parties you’re going to. She says, “The festive season brings with it lots of parties and other social gatherings—large groups of people in a confined space facilitates the transmission of viral infections (especially during the influenza season) through respiratory droplets and contact with contaminated surfaces.”
She adds, “Stress of preparing for the holiday, inadequate rest and partying late, dehydration from excessive alcohol and caffeinated beverages all contribute to reduced immunity and increased susceptibility to infections.” Another reason to drink in moderation: too much alcohol can also lead to dehydration, abdominal discomfort and hangover.
And if you haven’t been working out because you’re in “holiday mood”, that’s also part of the reason why you’re falling ill because Dr Cindy says that cutting back on exercise can lower your immunity.
So what’s a girl who just wanna party this season gotta do? Scroll through the gallery to read the tips shared by Dr Cindy.
“Prevention is better than cure. It is recommended to get you’re a flu vaccination annual in view of the upcoming flu season (December to January).”
Keeping infections at bay
Whether you’re attending a party or just meeting friends, just remember that you’ll be in contact with a lot of people and hence, a lot of potential viruses and bacteria. Dr Cindy shares a few ways to prevent bacteria and viruses from spreading:
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly before and after contact with people and surfaces, especially after going to toilet and changing of diapers.
- Avoid sharing of food, utensils or personal items such as handkerchiefs
- Ensure proper food handling, cooking and storage. Do not eat food that is left unrefrigerated for long hours.
Dr Cindy says, “We may overload our body with a large amount of foods, cakes and pastries, sugary drinks or alcoholic beverages consumed during the festive season. It is easy for our body to feel unwell or dehydrated if it is not used to having such foods on a regular basis. To keep your hydration levels up through the day, it is recommended to drink lukewarm water regularly.”
She also recommends:
- Getting enough sleep (seven to eight hours of quality sleep)
- Drinking plenty of water (i.e. eight glasses a day)
- Ensuring you exercise regularly (i.e., 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activities per week with family and friends)
Eat and drink in moderation
It’s easy to overeat during the festive period, especially when good food is aplenty. But you have to remember to do things in moderation. Dr Cindy says, “Instead of going for every food item at large amounts, choose a few that you would prefer first and take the time to savour every bite. Moderation is key to avoiding the binge-eating and unhealthy dieting cycle.”
She also advises you to:
- Eat regular meals; avoid starving in anticipation of the next big meal due to tendency to over-eat
- Be selective—choose a few quality foods over large quantities during buffets or parties
- Drink only if you’re medically fit to do so
- Drink in moderation—avoid more than two standard drinks per day for men and more than one standard drink for women
- Fill your stomach before and during drinking to reduce absorption
- Savour your wine slowly to avoid multiple refilling of wine glasses
- Do not drive if you drink—take a taxi or accept the service of a valet if you need to consume alcohol
Go for healthier food choices
You’ll be tempted to eat everything in your sight, whether it’s cakes or sugary drinks—but don’t. Dr Cindy cautions, “Increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as wholegrains lead to stronger immunity and confers a sense of fullness as it adds bulk to the diet; this, in turn, helps you stave off the unnecessary weight gain.”
Enjoy the festive season
“Do not let the stress of preparation overwhelm you, which in turn lowers your immune defence against infection,” she says.