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FROM READERS: Tips for a happy, healthy holiday

Friday, December 20, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

Mica Newman, M.D., is a family medicine physician at Missouri Valley Physicians, located in Marshall. These are some tips for a healthy holiday season that she often shares with her patients.

There are a few things you will not want Santa to bring you this holiday season, such as a cold or flu bug, an extra 10 pounds and a party hangover. Here are some tips for a healthy holiday season.

Start, if you haven’t already, by getting a flu shot. They are readily available and very effective at keeping influenza out of your holiday plans. Then wipe away germs whenever you travel or shop. Carry wipes with you to quickly wipe off anything you might touch that could have germs left from the person before you. A swipe over the shopping cart handle, elevator button, arm rest, door knob or seat belt buckle could save you from several miserable days of illness.

Germs getting onto your hands are the single biggest threat for upper airway infections.

Also, stay hydrated, as dry airways increase a person’s vulnerability to viruses and bacteria. Stay well rested to keep your immunity strong. Allow yourself at least 8 hours of sleep and relax some each day. Enjoy some traditional music, the scent of candles, a massage or warm bath.

Next, we all enjoy the holiday parties, food and snacks, but would prefer Santa keep his belly to himself. There are many temptations this time of year, so avoid putting yourself at high risk. Before heading to the mall or to travel, prepare a healthy snack to take along such as low-fat string cheese, a piece of fruit or a container of Greek yogurt. Resisting those mall cookies or cinnamon rolls will be worth it.

Before leaving for a party, drink a couple glasses of water, have a healthy snack and start chewing gum at least 15 minutes before heading to the buffet table. You can trick your brain into thinking it has already been eating and you will eat less. Take a small plate, look for fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and cheeses, add some to your plate then move away from the table to avoid nibbling.

Last, have a drink but not too many. When you go out, limit yourself to 2 drinks and alternate each of them with 2 glasses of water to avoid a morning headache and hangover. Try to eliminate sweet or creamy drinks to avoid excess calories. Always eat before you drink to avoid rapid alcohol absorption, which can cause blood sugar to be unbalanced, leading to that sluggish feeling the next morning. Never drink and drive as the results could be deadly for you or someone else.

So, make your list and check it twice to make sure you are taking care to avoid a cold or flu illness, holiday weight gain and a party hangover. Have a healthy, happy holiday.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.


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