Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Holiday Health and Safety

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The holiday season is upon us. As we “Deck the Halls,” prepare and attend “Holly Jolly…” feasts, and embark on travel, let’s take a few minutes to review some health and safety tips to ensure that we bring in 2015…safe and sound and without the usual holiday bulge.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Holiday Health and Safety

Holiday Party Eating

Don’t even think about it! It’s a common misconception that skipping a meal will give us a “get out of jail” card to be able to eat whatever when it’s time for our party. Unfortunately, when we are in starvation mode, we are as “hungry as a horse.” The result: an increased likelihood of opting for high calorie, high fat, unhealthy choices to quench the hunger. If the holiday party is at lunchtime, let’s make sure we have a healthy breakfast and mid-morning high-fiber snack. If the party is in the evening, let’s enjoy a lean protein lunch and salad and a late afternoon high-fiber snack.

Indulge…wisely, but don’t overindulge. Holiday foods can be laden with fat, calories, and sodium. From gravy to casseroles to eggnog, these dishes can tip the weighing scale in the wrong direction. And no party is complete without an array of fried foods or dessert. Enjoy the variety of fun seasonal foods, but do so wisely; meaning in small portions. For gravy and dressings, limit our servings to 1-2 tablespoons. When it comes to that decadent 1,000 calorie a slice pie, cut it in half and share. Afterall, sharing is caring. And to ease the guilt, balance out the less healthy items with fruit, veggies, and baked or grilled items.

Potluck planning. When the sign-up sheet gets passed around, be proactive and ensure that there are healthy or decreased calorie and fat options. For example, eggnog can be made with skim milk; incorporate fruit into desserts; and have steamed veggies and grilled meat items.

Alcohol

The calories add up—directly and indirectly. Alcohol is not a zero-calorie drink. And those yummy holiday specialty drinks oftentimes contain oodles and noodles of sugar (and hence calories). Additionally, as we become intoxicated, we are less likely to maintain portion control and opt for healthy food choices. And beware, alcohol can also be a surprise sleep wrecker. It can interfere with deep sleep cycles, leaving us feeling exhausted the following day.

On the rocks, please! When ice melts, it dilutes the alcoholic beverage and can help put a speed bump in the way of getting buzzed or drunk.

Alternate Choose a non-alcoholic drink like water after each alcoholic drink. In addition to hydrating you, it will help fill up your stomach and prevent you from drinking too much alcohol.

Fight germs

Hand washing. This is one of the most important, and easiest, ways to stay healthy. Afterall, our 2 hands and 10 fingers are weapons of mass infection. Proper technique involves rinsing with water and soap for 20 seconds.

Flu shot. Every year, between 15-60 million Americans become ill with the flu, hundreds of thousands require hospitalization, and thousands die. The flu shot is the most effective method to decrease these events.

Cover our mouths. Use a tissue, upper sleeve, or elbow to cover our mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. And let’s not forget to throw away the tissue and wash our hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer each time. This can help prevent the spread of germs. And when it comes to germs, sharing is not caring.

Get our ZZZ’s. While we sleep, our immune system works to fortify its defenses against foreign germy invaders. A lack of sleep can hinder our body’s preparation.

Travel safely. Millions of Americans hit the roads to travel during the holiday season. Always buckle up and make sure that all passengers are safely secured before starting the vehicle. Never text while driving. And never, ever drink and drive; appoint a designated driver.

Prevent injuries

Decorations. A “Winter Wonderland” is dreamy. But the process can be downright dangerous as people go “Up on the House Top.” I have personally taken care of one too many patients who became paralyzed after falling from a ladder or roof while decorating. It is life-changing. Consider hiring a professional, doing without, or exercising the utmost of safety precautions when doing so.

Fires. Data shows that the greatest number of home fires occur during the winter months. When using candles, make sure they are out of reach from children, pets, heavy traffic, and surroundings. Read and follow fire safety precautions with Christmas lighting. And ensure that smoke detectors are functional and have new batteries.

From my heart to yours, let’s wish for “Joy to the World” and “…Peace on Earth,” while we “Jingle Bell Rock,” cherish peace on a “Silent night,” and have “visions of sugar plums.” And of course, stay safe and healthy during the holiday season. Happy holidays!

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Photograph by K. Cecchini

Notice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.

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