8 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays - Mercy Medical Center

8 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Posted on: December 11, 2013

It’s that time of the year when you really want to have some fun and feel your best. Yet, it’s also a time to watch out for the seasonal health woes – from flu bugs to excess party indulgences.

Good news! There’s a lot you can do to help your body weather the season so you can enjoy this festive time as much as possible.

First and foremost, get your flu vaccine. There is still time, so don’t delay! Below are eight tips to keep you and your family healthy and very merry as you shop, travel and celebrate this holiday season.

1. Wash Your Hands Often

Keeping hands clean is one of the easiest ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizing solutions often when soap and water is not available, such as after pumping gas, signing a credit card pad, using someone else’s pen, handling a restaurant menu or pushing a shopping cart.

2. Stay Hydrated

Low humidity at high altitudes (such as plane flights) makes the air dry. Many heating systems also create a very dry environment. Our airways are more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. When mucous membranes are moist, they do a better job of keeping the bugs out of our systems.

Eight cups of water per day is recommended. Plus, have a glass of water between alcoholic drinks. This will not only help you stay hydrated, but also help you avoid hangovers and all the calories in alcoholic beverages.

3. Stay Warm and Dry

Stay dry and dress warmly by layering clothes especially when working or exercising in the cold. Often, clothing designed for winter exercise is made of materials that wick sweat away in order to keep you warm and dry. Don’t forget the hat, gloves and boots. For your exercise shoes, try using some waterproof spray to keep your feet from getting wet.

4. Laugh at Stress

Balance work, home and play. Keep check on over-commitment and over-spending. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook. Thank God for your blessings every day and laugh as much as possible.

5. ‘Visions of Sugar Plums’ While You Sleep

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who sleep at least eight hours nightly were about three times less likely to catch a cold than those who snoozed for less than seven.

Sleep can also impact your weight. New research finds the consistency of your bed time and wake time can also influence body fat. The main findings from the study published online in the American Journal of Health Promotion tell us that a consistent bedtime and especially a consistent wake time are related to lower body fat. The findings also showed getting less than 6.5 or more than 8.5 hours of sleep per night is associated with higher body fat.

6. Tread Lightly with Treats

Treats are OK, but only if you work for them and use them occasionally. It is easy to fall into the “I deserve this treat!” trap. Many people tend to overestimate just how many calories they burn when they shop, do housework or even walk on the treadmill. Leisurely walking around the mall burns at most about 150 calories an hour if you weigh 150 pounds. One large flavored latte or sugary beverage can easily weigh in at 300 calories.

Speaking of walking at the mall, beware of the smells that may lure you in. You’d have to walk for six hours to burn off a Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll. And one-eighth of a pecan pie will cost you more than 500 calories. Opt for the pumpkin at a mere 230 calories.

7. Maintain Don’t Gain

This year, don’t let the upcoming holidays sabotage you. Try setting a goal to not gain weight this holiday season. Here are some tips to help you stay on track.

  • Avoid temptations and over eating by having a healthy snack before leaving home to help keep you from overindulging.
  • Limit portion sizes. You don’t have to completely avoid your favorite foods, but limit yourself to small servings, and fill your plate mostly with foods that are more nutrient-dense, like fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat slowly, enjoying the food and the company.
  • Stop eating when comfortable, before you are full.
  • If you overindulge for a few meals, don’t use this as an excuse to continue doing so until the New Year. Get right back on track.
  • Step up your activity. It’s really quite simple – if you take in more calories than use can use, you will gain weight. To balance out any extra calories, increase your activity level.

The holidays are a time to gather with family and friends. Concentrate on these relationships rather than on the food.

8. Handle and Prepare Food Safely

As you prepare holiday meals, keep you and your family safe from food-related illness. Wash hands and surfaces often. Avoid cross contamination by using separate cutting boards and utensils for cooked and raw foods. Put the food away after eating. Food that sits out can be a health hazard in more ways than one. Not only does it invite the growth of bacteria, but it also invites you to keep nibbling! Image credit

From all of us at Mercy Weight Management, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If you live in or near Canton, Ohio, and you’re ready to make a commitment to weight loss in 2014, learn more about our many healthy eating programs.

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