Staying well during the holiday season - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Staying well during the holiday season

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By: Larry Studt, M.D., Occupational Health & Medicine Program, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph Hospitals

The holidays are a special time brimming with festive parties, family gatherings, and an overabundance of delicious food. Here are some tips to stay healthy and well during the most wonderful time of year.

Eat mindfully

Studies show the average holiday weight gain is only one pound. Unfortunately, most people never shed that pound. Taking some simple steps can keep you on the right course. First, don't go to a dinner party hungry. Eat a healthy snack beforehand like your favorite fruit, fat-free yogurt or a low-fat granola bar – you'll be less likely to overindulge in appetizers. Also, steer clear of appealing sauces, gravies, and dips which tend to contain a lot of fat and calories that will quickly add up. Finally, if you're going to a holiday potluck, bring your favorite healthy dish such as a salad, veggie or fruit tray, or a low-fat dessert.

Keep moving

Staying physically active during the holidays can help relieve stress, maintain your energy level, and encourage a good night's sleep. If you don't have an extra 30 minutes to spare for your treadmill, get creative to stay active. Build a snowman with the kids, or go sledding or ice-skating. Enjoy a spirited snowball fight, or dance to your favorite holiday music. Instead of buying a Christmas tree from a lot this year, visit a tree farm and cut your own. You'll get some good exercise while making a special holiday memory.

De-stress your holiday

There are a variety of sources of stress during the holidays, from gift buying and decorating your home, to preparing for company and throwing the "perfect" Christmas party. Remember, just because you're invited to four parties in one week doesn't mean you have to attend all of them! Be sure to set healthy limits in regard to spending, traveling, attending parties, and the number of houseguests you can host. Plan ahead as much as possible by shopping before the Christmas rush begins and wrapping presents early. Make and freeze parts of your holiday meal. Finally, delegate responsibilities to other members of your family when you can, and don't be afraid to ask for help.

Taking positive steps during the holiday season can reduce your stress and increase your enjoyment during this action-packed time of the year.

Be sure to watch the "Ask the Doc" video to learn more!

Avoiding the winter blues

By: Larry Studt, M.D., Occupational Health & Medicine Program, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph Hospitals

As the days get shorter and colder, you may find yourself with a case of the "winter blues." The "winter blues" can include mild depression, lack of motivation, and low energy that many people experience during the winter months. Here are some tips to help prevent the blues.

Even if you feel like spending the whole weekend in your easy chair, get up and get moving! Physical activity is great for relieving the stresses of life. You'll have more energy throughout the day, and your metabolism will stay elevated. A healthy diet will also boost your mood, give you more energy and help prevent weight gain over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Lack of sunlight can cause many people to feel a little down. Try to spend more time outdoors in the sunshine when you can. Keep your window shades up during the day to let more light in, and sit near windows in restaurants, at work, or during class. Try changing the light bulbs in your house to "full spectrum" bulbs which mimic natural light.

Finally, take up a winter sport like ice skating, snowboarding, hockey, or even sledding. Seeing winter in a positive light, with all the fun activities that it has to offer, will keep your spirits high and sailing into spring.

To learn more, watch the "Ask the Doc" video!

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