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Family physicians and health professionals serving southern Alberta

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Staying Healthy Through the Holiday Season

The holiday season is quickly approaching. It is important to be mindful of our health, mental and physical, during this time. Some of us have not seen friends or relatives for quite some time, so take a minute and embrace that returning to normal is on the horizon (2).

Holiday time can be stressful; a professor of psychology in Virginia, Jaime Kurtz, has some suggestions to mitigate stress over the holidays (2):

  • Shop and prep for the holiday in advance.
  • Prepare for challenges like as family turmoil, those impossible to buy gifts for, travel.
  • Avoid the temptation to plan every minute detail. This can cause undue stress, anxiety and you may feel less connected and present in the moment (2).

Food and drink are some of the biggest challenges to staying healthy during this time. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average adult gains almost a full pound during the season (4). Some things to consider:

  • Liquid calories: A 4oz eggnog contains around 350 calories; alcohol can increase it further. Dilute with skim milk to reduce calories. Alcohol lowers your inhibition: try an alternative like calorie-free seltzer or club soda with a citrus squeeze. If you do drink alcohol, consume it during or after a meal (3).
  • Snacks: Three handfuls of salted nuts contain roughly 600 calories. Healthier options are vegetables, pretzels or plain crackers (3).
  • Meat: Turkey- cutting down on dark meat and turkey skin can reduce caloric intake by up to 40% based on a 4oz portion.
  • Pace: Eat slowly and enjoy the family togetherness (3). Eating slowly allows the stomach to tell the brain “I am full”. If you want seconds, wait 20 minutes and drink a glass of water. If you must eat, choose a lower-calorie option like vegetables or fruit (1).
  • Exercise: Be active after a meal, even if it’s just a family walk. 150 minutes of activity a week can maintain those cardiovascular benefits (1). James Peterson, a doctor in sports medicine, suggests that “the single best exercise that individuals can do when they start to feel full is to place both hands on the table, then straighten their arms while pushing themselves away from the table, and finally get up and walk away.” (3).

Be mindful of diet, exercise and stress during this holiday season.  Have a safe and happy holiday.

Sources

(1)Healthy Holiday Eating (albertahealthservices.ca)

(2) JMU experts offer tips for navigating the holidays – JMU

(3) Take Ten: 10 Holiday Food Facts : ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal (lww.com)

(4) Holiday Weight Gain Facts – How Much Weight Do You Put on During the Holidays? (goodhousekeeping.com)

 

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