A Woman’s Perspective: Tips for Happy, Healthy Holidays
Most of the average American’s annual weight gain occurs between October and February, according to extensive research from the University of Hawaii. Holiday eating often results in an extra pound or two every year, the National Institutes of Health notes. While this seasonal increase in weight is small, studies show holiday weight gain tends to accumulate year after year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can add up significantly. The good news? People who report the most physical activity during the holiday season tend to not gain that weight over time.
There’s more good news for individuals who, despite good eating habits and fitness, accumulate stubborn pockets of fat over time that just won’t go away. More physicians are expressing empathy for patients with weight issues, acknowledging losing weight is hard and time-consuming, success comes after weeks of caloric restriction, and rebounds are easy. In addition, some physicians have become advocates of contouring laser modalities, noninvasive office procedures that create lipolysis, or destruction of fat cells.
The holidays can be as stressful with commitments as they are fun with festivities. The CDC offers helpful, “health-filled” points to ponder, including giving yourself a break and getting support from others when you feel overwhelmed. Check out the CDC’s suggestions at www.cdc.gov/features/healthytips/index.html.
Here are some other tips to follow in support of wellness and safety this holiday season.
• Instead of holiday candy choose fresh fruit as a sweet substitute—Fruits like pomegranates, mandarin oranges, and red grapefruit are often associated with the holidays, and are a good candy replacement because they not only satisfy your hunger but are relatively low in calories. Understandably, for those individuals with diabetes or higher than normal glucose levels, the holiday season can bring unique challenges. When everyone around you seems to be splurging, how do you stick to your meal plan? The CDC offers some great ideas at www.cdc.gov/Features/DiabetesManagement.
• Avoid overeating from buffets during the holidays by having a small plate of food you like best. Eating and standing do not give you the impression of fullness. Sit and see what you are consuming. In addition, remember to wait 10 minutes before going back for second helpings. Giving yourself 10 minutes will help you see if you really are still hungry, and a small plate encourages proper portion sizes. Eating a salad before your meal can help you consume fewer calories overall.
• As you prepare holiday food remember to wash surfaces and hands often. This prevents transmission of food-related illnesses. Using clean running water, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Avoid the cross-contamination of specific foods by keeping poultry, raw meat, eggs, and seafood away from eating surfaces and other foods. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours. Read the CDC’s Be Food Safe information at www.cdc.gov/features/befoodsafe.
• Staying physically active during the holidays means at least 2½ hours a week for adults. Kids and teens should have at least one hour a day. Finding interesting ways to stay active during the holidays with friends and family can be fun. How about hiking to cut down your holiday tree, or starting new family fitness traditions? Read the CDC’s Physical Activity Basics for Everyone at www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/index.html.
• Make sleep a priority. Don’t lose sleep in order to get your to-do list done and/or meet all your holiday commitments. Remember, there’s no such thing as “catching up” on sleep. Get a consistent six to eight hours of sleep every night; this helps promote recovery from workouts, regulates hormones, and prevents daily fatigue. Once again, the key is consistency.
• Don’t confuse thirst with hunger during the holidays; it’s easy to do and unfortunately leads to snacking. To be sure you’re staying hydrated during the day drink half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, drink 70 ounces of water over the course of the day. Add lemon or ginger for additional detoxification.
• Toast 2023 with one glass of bubbly. Be sure to remember that alcohol slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream. It also contains a lot of calories, 89 calories a glass of white wine or Champagne, 55 calories a shot of vodka, 170 calories a pint of stout beer. Further, alcohol breaks down your judgment. More information on this is provided under Alcohol: Frequently Asked Questions at www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm.
• Keep an extra watchful eye on your kids during the holiday season. They are at a higher risk when eating, playing, and traveling. Keep potentially dangerous household items, toys, food, drinks, choking hazards (like hard candy and coins), and other objects out of their reach. Learn how to provide early treatment for choking children. Come up with rules about toys and safe behaviors. Additional holiday safety thoughts can be found in Home and Recreational Safety at www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/index.html. Remember too, most home fires occur during the holidays and winter months.
• Keep candles away from pets, kids, walkways, trees, and curtains. Never leave stoves, candles, or fireplaces unattended. Do not use grills or generators, or other charcoal- or gasoline-burning devices inside your home or garage. Make sure your home has carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, test them every month, and replace their batteries twice a year.
The Marin Independent Journal welcomed Dr. Lizellen La Follette as their health columnist from 2015-2018. Her A Woman’s Perspective column appeared every fourth week in the Journal during these 3 years.