The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. It is a time that we get to enjoy time with family and friends, celebrate, and be thankful for what we have. It is also a great opportunity to appreciate our health. During the holiday season, there is a heightened risk of compromising our health for various reasons. These are some of the biggest health issues doctors see during the holidays: overeating and weight gain. With all the holiday cooking, it is easy to overeat. Here are some tips to help you avoid overeating and weight gain:
• Drink a glass of cold water before you eat — this can help curb your appetite.
• Eat slowly; wait at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds or grabbing dessert.
• Eat small portions and eat a variety of nutritious foods.
• Stay physically active over the holidays.
-Avoid stress. About 7 out of 10 people report saying that they feel overwhelmed and stressed during the holidays. This could be due to spending more money, hosting holiday events, hosting family members, being alone, remembering loved ones, family conflicts, or simply having too much going on.
How to avoid and cope with holiday stress:
• Stay organized. Prioritize with a holiday to-do list and tackle the more challenging tasks first. This helps me the most; I just love crossing off items done on my lists.
• Do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself or family members. Many of us go away for the holidays, which means kids are off their routines; we eat out more; and we are all pushed to our limits.
• Eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and doing things you enjoy can all help with any unavoidable stressors during the holidays.
Along with overeating and holiday stress, accidents can dampen the joy of the holidays. Did you know that there are about 15,000 holiday-related accidents a year? There are also at least12,000 people who end up in the emergency room for a holiday-related incident, and more than 5,000 injuries result from decorating-related injuries. Common holiday-related accidents include car accidents due to weather or decorating-related accidents such as falling off ladders or roofs. Having worked in the hospital over the holiday season, I found that this time of the year was the busiest of all times.
Here are some tips for avoiding holiday accidents:
• Don’t put up decorations alone, especially if you are older. Always have someone to help and stand behind you when working on ladders.
• When driving, always wear your seat belt. Make sure the children are in car seats.
• Make sure car is “winter-proof” to ensure safe driving in bad weather.
• Try not to or even avoid driving on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. This also goes for the mornings after these days as people are often coming home from parties and vacation.
-Get enough sleep. It is common to experience a lack of sleep during the holidays. This is often a result of having too much going on from holiday shopping, partying, having to meet year-end deadlines at work, or possibly being jet-lagged from traveling. It is important to get good sleep in order to function optimally. Otherwise, missing sleep can lower your immunity, increase your stress levels, cause weight gain, increase depression, and cause more car accidents.
We all know these holiday stressors; but remember, if this is stressing to you, can you imagine what it does to your children of all ages?
And.. have you ever wondered why eating too much turkey makes you feel sleepy? The fact is that turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan which forms the basis of brain chemicals that make people tired.
Have a happy and HEALTHY holiday season!
Debi Papperman, R.N.