Health and the Holidays: Five Tips for Not Getting Sick This Season

mehealth & fitness

I love the holidays. I love the decor, the family get togethers and of course, the festive food. Although every year I must remind myself of one thing—do not "over" anything. By this I mean:

  • Over decorate
  • Over commit
  • Over eat

I have a tendency to get a little excited and just want to do everything—a lot of everything. But as a doctor, I understand the consequences of over-doing. I realize that when I engage in too many activities, I overlook what I am eating and drinking. This usually creates some imbalance in my digestive system ( which contains approximately 75% of the immune system!). The possible end result of this is being sick. And who wants to be sick during the holidays?

Hints for a Healthy Holiday Season

Here's five tips for helping you have a healthy holiday season this year.

1. Wash those hands: This one maybe easy to forget ( or at least the kids may need some reminding!). It’s important to remember that most acute illnesses are due to poor hygiene and the easiest way to avoid this, is to wash your hands with soap and warm water.

2. Keep hydrated: During this time of year, we tend to drink more sugary drinks—hot chocolate, egg nog—which I am okay with in moderation but we seem to forget to drink water. My suggestion is to have a pitcher filled with water available in the fridge at all times. If water doesn’t excite you, then try putting slices of oranges and lemons to add some zest and flavor or perhaps making a pitcher of iced herbal tea.

3. Think color and protein: When preparing meals, think about whole colorful foods. They are very nutritious and extremely tasty! Protein helps sustain you for longer periods ( therefore helps in over snacking) and keeps your blood sugar levels balanced ( ie: no crazy mood swings).

4. Take time for yourself: Try to get up a little early and begin your day with some exercise—a brisk walk, yoga or a trip to the gym. The morning is a perfect time because as the day gets busy, exercise is one of the last things that we will want or find the time to do.

5. Find replacements for sugar: When hosting a party, instead of the traditional cookie decorating how about throwing a party to create holiday decorations or holiday crafts for kids?

Remember that the holidays are a fun enjoyable time of the year, so do indulge you taste buds, decorate your house and host or attend holiday parties. But remember, think moderation, follow some of my healthy holiday hints and no over-doing!

Dr. Heather Manley, who in 2001 received her medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, is a practicing physician whose primary interest is preventative healthcare for families. She is the author of Human Body Detectives, her educational series of story-telling audiobooks and accompanying activity workbooks. She also promotes wellness and naturopathic healthcare on her website She lives on the Big Island of Hawaii with her husband and two daughters, and is currently at work on the next Human Body Detectives adventure.
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