How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

The holiday season is all about family, friends, fun, and usually food. It is essential during your holiday gatherings to remember to also watch out for your health. Below are six tips from SIMEDHealth Primary Care Physician Mary Hurd, MD, about encouraging your participation in these festivities while not compromising your health. 

1. Get your flu vaccine. It is preferable not to wait until the holiday season to receive the influenza immunization. However, if you haven't gotten it yet, it is okay and encouraged to do so now. 

2. Eat regularly and do not "save calories" for later. Dr. Hurd says, "People think that not eating before a big meal makes it acceptable to overeat for a holiday gathering, which is untrue and very unhealthy." Bodies need nutrients and energy that come from food consistently. Days, when you know you're going to be eating more than usual, are no exception to that. It is a dangerous and unnecessary step to take before a big meal.

3. Dr. Hurd says, "When attending a holiday gathering, choose vegetables, over starches." While delicious, try to limit your intake of foods like gravy, stuffing, and other high-fat side dishes. Though they're tempting, trying to keep your plate balanced will make you feel better in the long run. 

4. "Plan on taking a 15-20 minute walk after a holiday meal, especially if you have overeaten or overindulged," suggests Dr. Hurd. A brisk walk around the block or up and down the street can get you active and make your bloated stomach feel better. Research has found that walking can help speed up the time it takes food to move from the stomach to the small intestine. 

5. Dr. Hurd recommends, "If you are cooking the holiday meal, consider substituting high-fat ingredients for low-fat alternatives. Use fat-free sour cream or yogurt or reduced-fat cheese."

6. "Keep your alcohol intake to a minimum. For men, the recommended intake is two drinks per day, and women one drink per day.", advises Dr. Hurd. Excessive drinking can affect motor skills, which can lead to falls, burns, and other unintentional injuries, and exacerbate chronic diseases. 

If you would like to talk to Dr. Hurd or one of our other SIMEDHealth Primary Care physicians about what you can do to stay healthy, click here