New Users Registration  |  Useful Links  |  FAQ  |  Site Map 
Go Search


Skip Navigation LinksHealth Xchange > News
  2013 2015   Dec 2015 | Nov 2015 | Oct 2015 | Sep 2015 | Aug 2015 | Jul 2015 | Jun 2015 | May 2015 | Apr 2015 | Mar 2015 | Feb 2015 | Jan 2015 |
  2013 2014   Dec 2014 | Nov 2014 | Oct 2014 | Sep 2014 | Aug 2014 | Jul 2014 | Jun 2014 | May 2014 | Apr 2014 | Mar 2014 | Feb 2014 | Jan 2014 |
  2013   Dec 2013 | Nov 2013 | Oct 2013 | Sep 2013 | Aug 2013 | Jul 2013 | Jun 2013 | May 2013 | Apr 2013 | Mar 2013 | Feb 2013 | Jan 2013 |
  2012   Dec 2012 | Nov 2012 | Oct 2012 | Sep 2012 | Aug 2012 | Jul 2012Jun 2012May 2012Apr 2012Mar 2012 | Feb 2012 | Jan 2012 |
  2011   Dec 2011Nov 2011Oct 2011 | Sep 2011 | Aug 2011Jul 2011Jun 2011 | May 2011 | Apr 2011 | Mar 2011 | Feb 2011 | Jan 2011 |
  2010   Dec 2010 | Nov 2010 | Oct 2010 | Sep 2010 | Aug 2010 | Jul 2010 | Jun 2010 | May 2010 | Apr 2010 | Mar 2010 | Feb 2010 | Jan 2010 |
  2009   Dec 2009 | Nov 2009 | Oct 2009 | Sep 2009 | Aug 2009 |
  Health Policy and Announcements | Diseases and Outbreaks
  Medical Research | New Treatments and Technology
  Singapore   SingHealth | Health Promotion Board | Ministry of Health | Asiaone
  International   World Health Organization | Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US)
  News Article  

Feasting on a restricted diet

  Thursday, 16 l 12 l 2010 Source:  Mind Your Body; The Straits Times   
By: Benita Aw Yeong

Do you need to watch what you eat because of a health problem? BENITA AW YEONG finds out that you can still enjoy Christmas food if you stick to some rules 


Supermarket catalogues are full of them at this time of the year: legs of honey-baked ham, succulent joints of roast beef and chocolatey log cakes. They are to die for ? something heart patients should do well to avoid. This is a tough time of year ? stretching all the way to Chinese New Year ? for anyone who has cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol or diabetes or is watching his weight. 

Ministry of Health statistics show that 23.6 per cent of deaths last year was due to heart disease. Ischaemic heart disease, caused by inadequate oxygen reaching the heart muscle, ranks as the No. 2 killer in Singapore. Diabetes and obesity rates are also creeping up among Singaporeans. A recent National Health Survey found that 11.3 per cent of adults between 18 and 69 years are diabetic, up from 9 per cent in 2004. Obesity rates have climbed from 6.9 per cent to the present 11 per cent.   

So how can patients with heart problems, diabetes or obesity enjoy rich, calorie-laden festive food while keeping an eye on their health?   

roast-turkeyDietitian Charlotte Lin from National University Hospital said that patients with heart problems should watch out for food high in saturated and trans fats. These include festive fare like roast beef with a layer of fat and food cooked with lots of butter, ghee or palm oil. “Simple steps, such as removing the skin or fat from meat and using olive oil instead of butter to fry or cook, would be good for heart patients to stick with,” said Ms Lin. Dr Ruth Kam, a cardiologist with her own practice Ruth Kam Heart and Arrhythmia Clinic, added that ham, a hot favourite at Christmas, is something heart patients would do best to avoid.  

“Ham is not good for heart patients because it tends to be high in sodium and nitrites. If you really can’t resist, have just one slice, but skip the gravy ? it’s salty enough on its own,” said Dr Kam. An alternative to processed meats like ham and bacon would be fresh meat, seasoned with herbs and spices.  Roast turkey without skin, for example, is not unhealthy. “Go for meats with flavour-enhancing herbs rather than those that are cooked with salt or soya sauce,” said Ms Lin. Also, eating sauces and gravy high in salt may exacerbate high blood pressure, she said.   

Changi General Hospital (CGH) dietitian Ling Ping Sing recommended those struggling with obesity to contribute a low-calorie dish to potluck parties, so that they have at least one healthier option. And no, those delectable cookies and rich cakes of the season do not have your name on it if you have diabetes or a heart condition. Dr Kam said: “Choose one ? and only one ? dessert to expend your calories on. “I generally tell my patients not to go near log cakes and cookies, but if you are really craving it, have just one, small slice.”  

Ms Lin added: “If you have heart disease or are baking for someone who does, use low-fat milk instead of full cream, and soft margarine, which has less trans fat and saturated fat compared to butter or shortening.” CGH’s Ms Ling said diabetics need to watch out for carbohydrate content in food. “They should stay away from cake, cookies and sweet drinks if their  blood sugar level is not under control,” she said.  

Parties and restaurant dinners are unavoidable during Christmas. However, doctors said that you do not have to skip them if you can make wise choices. No prizes for guessing which you should pick from a menu that offers a choice of prime roast rib and a lean meat like turkey breast. In addition, if heart or obesity patients find it difficult to control food intake, they should first load up on vegetables and foods that contain fibre before helping themselves to the meat dishes, recommended Dr Kam.  

Ms Lin added: “When it comes to ordering food at a restaurant, soupy dishes make good choices for those who have high blood cholesterol or those who have had a heart attack. Also, pick items which are grilled or baked instead of deep-fried, oily food.” Of course, people with specific dietary constraints need to choose their drinks carefully too. Opt for a glass of dry, white wine or champagne rather than egg nog or a sugar-laden cocktail. Ms Ling has a tip for diabetics: bring your own sweeteners to add to tea and coffee. Most restaurants offer sweeteners suitable for diabetics, but if you are at a party, your host may not think of serving  these.

 Ask the Specialists (1st - 30th Nov)
Gastric Pain, what can I do?
Your Gastric Pain could be a signal of a more serious condition that needs attention; or that you need a change in lifestyle. Ask our Specialist now!
  Your eye and contact lenses
Concerned with the side effects of wearing contact lens? Need a guide on how to take care of your eyes and lenses? Ask our Specialist now!
 Ask the Specialists - Answered Topics
  Aesthetic Eye   Asthma  
  Breast Cancer   Cancer and Nutrition  
  Child's Eye Conditions   Depression  
  Breast Cancer   Eczema  
  Elderly Eye Conditions   Health At Work  
  Heart Disease   LASIK  
  Low Back Pain   Maternal Depression  
  Money and Healthcare   Managing Pain  
  Pre-pregnancy   Prostate Problem  
  Risk of Heart Disease   Sleep  
  Sports Injuries   Thyroid Problems  
  Weight Management        
 Catch up with Health Xchange
  facebook   newsletter