How to cope with holiday’s excess calories and winter’s illnesses

The end of the holiday season means it's now time to take off those extra pounds and beef up your immune system before cold season sets in.

October 6, 2015 14:23
2 minute read.
Overweight man

Overweight man [Illustrative]. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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Israelis collectively added several million kilos to their waistlines during the past three weeks and groan when offered a heavy meal.

Thus now is the time to lose the average three kilos per person taken on from Rosh Hashana through Simhat Torah, according to Adina Ben- Aharon, head of the nutrition and diet unit at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.

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Eat orderly meals – three main ones and one intermediate one – Ben- Aharon advises – and skip calorie-laden snacks. The meals should consist of a variety of nutritious foods, including vegetables, fruits, protein, low-fat dairy products, complex (whole-grain and fiber-rich) carbohydrates and healthful fats, she suggested.

To avoid excessive calories, eat fresh salads and cook food by baking, steaming or grilling rather than frying or otherwise using a lot of fat.

Avoid sugary desserts and beverages as much as possible.

When visiting the supermarket or grocery store, avoid stocking up on fattening products and alcoholic beverages.

Don’t try a quickie diet that includes only a small number of food types.

Meanwhile, pediatricians at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva recommend encouraging their kids to get back into the pre-holiday routines and to avoid the illnesses of winter. Dr. Ephraim Bilbaski, an infectious diseases expert in the pediatrics department, urged parents to get their children over six-monthsold vaccinated (free) at their health fund clinic in addition to getting the shots themselves. Children are particularly susceptible to complications of the flu, as are the elderly and chronically ill.

Your family will be better protected if all members – adults and children – are vaccinated, he advised. As rains and cold have begun to reappear, getting vaccinated early will make them more effective. A flu shot should be postponed only if one has fever, but not a runny nose, sore throat or cough, he continued. Children with fever should not be sent to day-care centers, kindergartens or schools so as not to infect their peers.

Try to avoid close contact among sick children at health fund clinics; symptoms that require a visit to the pediatrician include high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, unexplained rashes and a general miserable feeling.

Encourage children and their caregivers to wash their hands with soap and water often and, of course, before touching food.

As most winter diseases are caused by virus against which antibiotics are not effective, said Bilbasky, don’t take antibiotics unless specifically prescribed by the doctor after an examination.

Giving antibiotics to a child before his or her first birthday, he added, is now proven to raise the risk of infectious such as gastroenterological problems, asthma and others at an older age. If the pediatrician nevertheless prescribes the drugs, make sure that the full prescription is taken.

Flu vaccination is recommended by the Health Ministry for all pregnant women, as is whooping cough vaccine for them, as the shot will protect both the mother and fetus.

If possible, newborns should not go to a framework with numerous children until after the end of their first winter season, as they are exposed there to many viral and bacterial diseases, said the pediatrician.

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