Healthy Holiday Season

Staying healthy this holiday season: Tips to keep things merry and bright

The holidays are a time for family, friends and celebration, but they can also be a time of stress, over-indulgence and illness.

However, there are ways to ward off these season spoilers to keep your holidays merry and bright.

The most important thing you can do to ensure you are ready for every holiday gathering on your social calendar: Get the flu shot.

Contrary to popular belief, the flu shot will not make you sick. In fact, it does just the opposite.

While the flu shot is recommended for everyone, it is most highly recommended for those who are vulnerable to serious complications should they contract the flu, including seniors, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.

Additionally, it can also be lifesaving for those who suffer from chronic disease such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

Once you’ve checked this off your holiday list, remember to continue to practice good hygiene in the coming weeks. While the flu can be a complete holiday ruiner, nobody wants to be sidelined by a cold, either.

The holidays are sure to be filled with shopping in crowded malls, large parties and community events.

Wash your hands as often as you can and always be sure to carry hand sanitizer for an on-the-go fix when soap and water aren’t available.

Keeping illness at bay is just one aspect of ensuring a healthy holiday for you and your loved ones.

The challenge that resonates most among us is how to prevent packing on the pounds when there is an abundance of all things savory and sweet around us.

Much of our holiday gatherings are focused around food — it’s part of the celebration. However, over-indulging isn’t good for your health.

Keep to an 80-20 rule. Eighty percent of the time eat a balanced diet rich in leafy greens and fruits and then 20 percent of the time go for that slice of ham or cheesecake.

Make sure to also stay hydrated, which can help prevent overeating, and to first fill your plate with salads and other healthy items before turning to less-nutritious side dishes and desserts.

Moderation in all things.

Then there’s the counterpart to eating healthy — exercise.

It’s hard during the holidays. People are busy. We understand.

If you can’t make it to a scheduled workout to log at least 30 minutes of activity, find ways to work in 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

There are things you can do to get that little bit of activity in, even if your day is full. While out shopping, park in the farthest lot and walk and opt for the stairs instead of the escalator.

While all of these things are so important for a healthy season, one of the best pieces of advice I like to give my patients might be considered non-traditional, but it is equally important: Live in the moment.

It sounds easy, but it takes much practice.

The holidays often leave people stressed, run down and feeling hectic, which can lead to illness.

Take time to stop and really enjoy the time, enjoy your family and enjoy your friends. When you are in the moment, you actually experience happiness.

And that is my wish for you — to have a happy and healthy holiday season.