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Have a healthy holiday

'Tis the season to be jolly, falalala...Christmas is coming and this holiday season brings with it certain issues that could affect your health. Certainly, your usual patterns of eating and sleeping get disrupted. Squeezing Christmas shopping,...

‘Tis the season to be jolly, falalala…Christmas is coming and this holiday season brings with it certain issues that could affect your health. Certainly, your usual patterns of eating and sleeping get disrupted. Squeezing Christmas shopping, visiting, Christmas parties and family get-togethers into your already tight schedule takes a toll on your well-being.
It’s no wonder many people get run down during this time of year. Did you know that most heart attacks occur on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day?

Interestingly, that’s why a leading heart journal has even coined these terms: “Merry Christmas Coronary” and “Happy New Year Heart Attack.” So, taking care of yourself may be one of the best presents you can give yourself and others this year.
Keep feeling your best and avoid health issues by reducing stress, eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Doing this is easily said, but not so easily done. So, here are some tips to make it happen:

First, keep stress at a manageable level by knowing your limit and staying within it. Whether referring to budget, available time, or diet, monitor the present, so you won’t have to pay in the future. Leaving all your preparations to the last minute can create stress; so, organize, create an agenda, write lists, and buy presents ahead of time to allow yourself flexibility when a monkey-wrench gets thrown in your plans at the last minute.

Relax. Give yourself time to unwind. Take time to connect and share a good laugh with an old friend.
Second, watch your diet without feeling deprived. Start out with a solid breakfast, even if you know you’re having a Christmas lunch or dinner later.

This will jumpstart your metabolism and give you the energy you need to prepare for a busy day. If you’re in a rush, pop some fruit, low-fat milk or yogurt, and perhaps some protein powder into the blender and enjoy a smoothie on your way out the door.

At this time of year, most counters are decorated with tempting bowls of candies, nuts, chips and other tasty snacks.

Before reaching for high-calorie/high-fat chips or squares, satisfy your urge to crunch with veggies and low-fat dip.

Enjoy some fresh fruit finger food, like grapes or apple slices. After that, a few salty chips or a small sweet treat will be enough to feel satisfied.

Happily, some sweets are good for you. Don’t completely fight your urge for chocolate. Dark chocolate does have anti-oxidants and can be a mood-booster. So, indulge a little.

At mealtime, when pulling your chair up to the Christmas dinner table, start off with juice, salad and other vegetables. They taste good, fill you up, and provide the nutrition that your jellied salads and dessert won’t. For sure, Christmas only happens once a year; so, enjoy all your favourites – in moderation.

Fortunately, typical Christmas fare is really quite nutritious. Turkey and ham is high in protein. Potatoes, cranberries, peas, salad, squash, and salad all provide a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

On the other hand, the dressing, gravy, and desserts aren’t quite so healthy, but they do add flavour to round out the meal. So, moderation is key.

Moving on to beverages – you may enjoy many different types of drinks over the holidays.

That’s fine, but definitely don’t forget your water. Drinking water will help keep your diet on track by helping you feel full. It also keeps your tissues hydrated, which gives you more energy and flushes toxins from your tissues more easily.

Third, get some exercise. Be creative. Why not approach Christmas shopping as a walking exercise (as long as you’re not shopping online) and burn some calories as you load up with bags of gifts?  Join the many people who use malls as an indoor track. Or, take a walk through the neighbourhood and enjoy the lights your neighbours have put up. Call a friend; take out the Wii or other game system you got for Christmas a previous year and work up a sweat as you compete in a virtual game of tennis, baseball or another sport.

Fourth, make sure you get good quality sleep. Aim for seven to eight hours. During sleep, your body and mind recharge and repair. A lack of sleep can lead to catching cold or flu. So, getting enough sleep is vital.

Exercising in the day will make your body tired enough to want rest. Staying away from caffeine after supper and giving yourself a chance to unwind before jumping into bed will help your mind get ready to drop off.

Keeping your bedtime routines consistent will help as well.

So, while you’re making your list and checking it twice, check out if you’re naughty or nice to your own health this season.
Merry Christmas!

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