Many people overdo it at Christmas, celebrating with friends and family, non-stop eating, drinking and late nights can leave us feeling tired, sluggish and quite often, a little poorly if we’ve eaten or drunk too much. A lot of people with HIV generally have a healthy diet and lifestyle, and may only overindulge once or twice a year, if that’s you, then you’ll have no problems going back to eating sensibly after the holiday season, festive excesses aren’t likely to have a long-term, damaging effect on your health or your weight. However, the short term strain that too much rich food and alcohol puts on your body can still leave you feeling bloated and out of sorts, when all you need is your body to get back to normal.
An average person can consume as much as 7,000 calories on Christmas Day, (that’s three and a half times the recommended daily intake for a woman.) As well as dehydrating us and putting a strain on our liver, excessive consumption of alcohol can also make us feel unwell, and ill-equipped to handle a detox correctly.
When the festivities are finally over, there are a few sensible, gimmick-free steps that you can take to help you and your body get back on the road to feeling better.
It’s a cliché, but exercise really is the best way to make your body and metabolism work together so it can make use of the nutrition it’s received over the past few days. A 30 minute walk is good for your heart, lungs, muscles and bones, as well as improving your mood and giving you a sense of wellbeing. So instead of watching reruns of Christmas TV, get yourself off the sofa and go out for a stroll!
Be kind to your body
If you’ve over-indulged in rich, fatty, sugary foods with alcohol, if your inclined, your body needs time to recuperate. You should try to avoid red meats, dairy products and processed foods and opt for lots of fruit and vegetables and wholegrain foods instead. And one of the best things to drink is water (no surprise there), but did you know that the additional salt and alcohol we consume dehydrates the body, so it’s best to re-hydrate. If you can’t manage full glasses, frequently just try a glass of water with your cup of tea, coffee or soft drink. Combined with exercise, you’ll start to feel the benefits almost immediately!
Don’t Forget Protein!
Proteins are extremely important for your diet as they are the building blocks of your cells, muscles, organs, and more importantly, your immune system! If your body doesn’t get the protein it needs from food, it will start using the protein it has stored up which can result in a weakening of your immune system. A good rule of thumb for a HIV positive person is 100 to 150 grams of protein per day for men, and 80 to 100 grams of protein per day for women.
Energy & Fat (yes, fat)!
You can rebuild your energy by eating complex carbohydrates, that’s food items such as grains and beans, rice and pasta. While eating complex carbohydrates, try to focus on foods such as white bread, pasta and potatoes. These carbohydrates are richer in nutrients and the body absorbs them slower, helping to sustain you while you are between meals.
While carbohydrates help you get energy, fat is what helps the body store energy for later use. For HIV positive people, doctors recommend a fat intake of less than 30 percent of your daily caloric intake. Also make sure you are getting the appropriate amounts of fat, sometimes, people with HIV experience an increase in cholesterol because of interactions with medications so it’s important to watch your fat consumption. It is recommended that of that 30 percent, 7 percent be saturated fat from foods like whole milk, butter and fatty meats. The rest of the fat should come from nuts, fish, seeds, canola oil and soy.
If you’d like to know more about HIV and Nutrition, visit Avert, who have comprehensive information and advice on diet, supplements and nutrition.
You can also visit Web MD, National AIDS Trust or Positive Nation for some helpful nutrition information or learn about about eating a balanced diet on the NHS Choices website at: www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/the-eatwell-guide.aspx.