Answers to Common Holiday Health Questions

Premier Physician Network doctors answer frequently asked questions about holiday health.

What simple steps can people take to reduce their risk of becoming sick during the holidays?

Dr. Diller talks about reducing the risk of sickness during the holidays. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

The holidays are a time that are supposed to be dedicated to celebration, giving thanks, friends and family, but they can also become busy, hectic and somewhat overwhelming, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There are a few simple steps you can take to help you stay healthy during the holiday season, according to the CDC, including:

  • Hand washing – Wash your hands often to avoid getting sick and avoid spreading germs to others. Wash your hands with soap in warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and warm running water are not available, the next best option is alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Get vaccinated – Flu shots usually become available in the fall, so you and your family can get them and be prepared for the holidays.
  • Stay warm – Being exposed to cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially for babies and the elderly. Be sure to stay dry and dress in layers to stay healthy and warm if you have to go outside.
  • Manage stress – Try your best to find a balance between work, home and celebrating. It’s important to try your best to avoid over commitment and over spending and to try to get enough sleep.
  • Eat healthy – Holiday meals are delicious, but stuffing yourself won’t help you stay healthy. Try to eat your holiday favorites in moderation and work fruits and vegetables into appetizers and snacks.
  • Stay active – Though the holidays are a busy time, you can still find time for staying active. Activities, such as dancing to your favorite holiday tunes, can get you in the spirit of the season while keeping you healthy, too.

For more tips on how to keep from getting sick this holiday season, talk with your doctor.

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How does rest and proper hygiene keep someone healthy during the holidays?

Dr. Diller talks about the importance of rest and hygiene to staying healthy during the holidays. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Taking simple steps to get enough sleep and have good hygiene can help you stay healthy during the holiday season.

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can be easy to become over-committed, over-stressed and end up losing sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Taking the time to re-focus on the fun parts of the holidays – family, friends, celebrations and more – can help you to relax and get the rest you need, according to the CDC.

Getting enough sleep each night will keep you energized, will boost your immune system and will improve your safety because you will be more aware and less clumsy, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Hand washing is just as important during the holidays. Proper hand washing – using soap and warm, running water to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds – is especially important during the holiday season, when colds and the flu is more prone to spreading, according to the CDC.

Make sure to wash your hands frequently throughout the day, especially if you have been someplace where you have shaken a lot of other people’s hands or touched a lot of shared items, according to the CDC.

If soap and warm, running water are not available, the second-best option is alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the CDC.

Talk to your doctor for more information about the importance of good sleep and good hygiene to your health during the holidays.

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What healthy habits can be maintained during the holidays without sacrificing the fun things the season offers?

Dr. Diller explains how to maintain your healthy habits during the holiday. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Maintaining healthy habits during the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice having fun.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a few things you can do to help keep yourself from overindulging at a party buffet and to boost your physical activity levels.

Some ways to keep you healthy habits during the holidays, according to the CDC, include:

  • Keep moving – It is important to try to maintain your exercise routine, even if you get busy, during the holiday season. You can help yourself stay active by parking far from the entrance of a store so you’ll have farther to walk and taking the stairs instead of an elevator. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week.
  • Limit alcohol – Have a plan before you go to a party about how much you will drink. To help keep to your plan, try alternating between one alcoholic drink and one non-alcoholic drink during an event.
  • Use portion control – Healthy eating can be a struggle for people during the holidays because of all the comforting favorite foods and treats. You don’t have to miss out on your holiday favorites, just be mindful of what you eat. Before you go to a party, eat a healthy snack so you’re not tempted to overeat at the event.

For more tips on having fun while sticking with healthy holiday habits, talk to your physician.

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What are some simple steps people can take to stay safe this holiday season?

There are a variety of safety hazards to be aware of during the holiday season, including decoration safety, toy safety, and vehicle safety.

The National Safety Council (NSC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shared some tips about how the stay safe this holiday season, including:

  • Buy safe toys: Choose age-appropriate toys and make sure that if the toys are for younger kids, that there are not small parts they could choke on or sharp edges. Remove strings or ribbons that are long enough to be choking hazards. Avoid electric toys that heat up, and always purchase safety equipment to go along with bicycles, scooters and other outside toys.
  • Be careful with decorations: Trees, especially fresh trees, can be fire hazards. Trees also should be well secured to avoid them tipping and falling. Lights should be checked to ensure they don’t get hot. Lights also should be secured wherever you hang them so they don’t become a fall or choking hazard. Never light a candle or the fireplace near a tree, near hanging decorations or within reach of children.
  • Practice vehicle safety: Have a winter check done on your vehicle to make sure the brakes, tires and more are ready for winter weather. Be prepared for emergencies by having a “survival kit” – including a flashlight, blankets, ice scraper, first aid kit, road flares, matches and high energy, non-perishable foods. Always lock your vehicle and park in a well-lit, high-traffic location while out holiday shopping to prevent criminals from targeting you or your vehicle.

For more holiday safety tips, talk to your doctor.

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What is holiday stress and what can be done to reduce it?

Dr. Diller talks about holiday stress and how to reduce it. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Sometimes, the holidays can become more stressful than joyful. To overextending yourself and your wallet can both cause unhealthy stress during what should be a wonderful time of year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Holiday stress affects some people when they feel an overwhelmed by commitments during the holiday season, including gift shopping, celebration, planning large meals and gatherings, and more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The key to reducing holiday stress is finding balance. To help prevent feeling overwhelmed and prevent holiday burnout, the University of Virginia and the American Psychological Association recommend:

  • Accept help from friends and family
  • Avoid drinking too many caffeinated beverages
  • Commit to getting enough sleep
  • Don’t overspend
  • Eat nutritional food
  • Focus on the personal meaning of the holidays to you
  • Get a massage
  • Give back and help someone in need
  • Have a positive attitude
  • Make a gratitude list
  • Meditate using tai chi, yoga, prayer or whatever option best suits you
  • Reignite the excitement of traditions
  • Seek support
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Share the cooking duties
  • Take some time off work
  • Take time out for yourself
  • Try not to worry about things you can’t control

Talk to your doctor for more helpful tips on how to reduce stress in your holiday season.

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What are safety issues around the holidays that most people don’t think about?

While everyone is getting ready for joyous celebrations full of treats and sweets, it’s not always easy to remember the safety issues involved in all the food you’ll be eating this holiday season. The celebrations will be much more cheerful if everyone is healthy and well, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA recommends following four steps for proper holiday food safety:

  • Clean – It’s important to keep everything clean during food preparation. Wash your hands with soap in warm running water for at least 20 seconds. Wash all counters and cutting boards. Rinse fruits and vegetables in cool running water using a produce brush. Do not use the same utensils and cutting boards for raw meats because that will increase the chances of spreading bacteria.
  • Separate – Keep foods separate so you can avoid cross-contamination. Use one cutting board for foods that will be cooked and another for preparing raw foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Keep raw foods separate and use different utensils for them. Once meat is cooked, do not put it back on the original, unwashed plate, but rather on a new plate.
  • Cook – Food is safe once it has reached a high enough internal temperature. Doneness should not be determined by color alone, but instead by using a meat thermometer. Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. Do not eat uncooked cookie dough that contains raw eggs.
  • Chill – Refrigerate foods quickly to avoid harmful bacteria from growing. Put leftovers and takeout foods, including pumpkin pie, in the fridge within two hours. Never defrost food at room temperature. If food looks or smells questionable, follow the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule. Leftovers should be used within three or four days.

Following these food safety steps will ensure you have enjoyable holiday gatherings with no sickness from food with bacteria.

Talk to your physician for more information about food safety and other holiday safety threats people don’t often think of.

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What are small steps people can take to reduce their risk for weight gain during the holidays?

During the holiday season it can be easy for people to focus too much on the sweets and treats and to slip into a relaxed attitude about weight gain. Fortunately, there are some small steps you can take to help reduce your risk of gaining weight while still enjoying the holidays. Clemson UniversityOff Site Icon (CU) and the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC) recommend the following:

  • Avoid drinking your calories by drinking alcohol in moderation
  • Balance your day’s meals by planning smaller, healthier meals earlier in the day if you want to indulge a bit at an evening event
  • Choose socializing or participating in activities as a priority at gathering before food
  • Don’t skip regular meals
  • Don’t stand near the appetizers or buffet table to socialize because it can become difficult to avoid grazing
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Fill up with a healthy snack before heading to a party
  • Find time to fit in workouts and add extra activity – even extra steps – whenever you can
  • Save calories by choosing to avoid dessert or opting for a low-calories option
  • Take fresh fruits and veggies to contribute to a party so that you know you’ll have a healthy option
  • Use a small plate to stick with a smaller portion
  • Wait 20 minutes before going for second helpings of food to decide if you are truly hungry for more

For more information about small changes you can make to help reduce your risk of holiday weight gain, talk with your doctor.

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How can exercise during the holidays help a person keep their weight in check?

Though watching what you eat is the best way to avoid extra holiday pounds, having an exercise plan won’t hurt.

It can become easy to want to avoid exercise during the holiday season, but it’s important to stay active, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC). While regular physical activity helps control your weight, being more active than usual, according to the CDC, can help you combat the extra calories from that extra piece of pie or the second trip to the appetizer platter. You don’t have to check out of family time to get in extra activity. Be creative and find some fun ways to enjoy being physically active with friends and family, recommends the CDC. Make time for a walk after dinner. Find a nearby holiday light exhibit to walk through. Plan a whole-family football game out in the crisp air. The better you do at keeping and adding good habits through the holidays, the easier it will be to find your way back to your routine once the New Year begins.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how exercise can help people keep their weight in check during the holidays.

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What should a person do if they gained weight during the holidays but want to take it off?

It can be easy to gain weight during the holiday season. However, those pounds that went on easily can be much harder to take back off.

Hard work, dedication, and a determination to not give up all are important in taking the weight back off, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesOff Site Icon(HHS).

Healthy eating should become a priority, according to the HHS. Fill your plate with healthy options, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, and avoid eating high fat and fried foods.

Returning to or increasing physical activity into your daily routine will also help you work off holiday weight, according to the HHS. Don’t let winter weather push you toward a sedentary lifestyle. Find what motivates you to get moving and stick with it.

Talk to your doctor for more information about what steps you can take to work off extra holiday pounds.

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What are some of the most common health risks related to Halloween?

Halloween can be a fun time for both kids and adults. But it’s important to be aware of a few health risks that can be tied to the holiday, Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians say.

One health risk includes traffic safety. Because walking from house to house can take place along roads and in the dark, it’s important for kids to stay in groups and for an adult to stay with them.

Another health risk comes directly from trick-or-treating – so much candy. The sugary treats seem fun, but they can be trouble for both teeth and stomachs.

Trick-or-treating on Halloween can also lead to a lot of germ sharing. Communicable diseases can spread easily as kids dig into bowls full of candy from house to house.

For more information about health risks related to Halloween, talk with your doctor.

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What are some safety tips for kids before they go trick-or-treating around their neighborhood?

Trick-or-treating around the neighborhood can be a fun childhood activity for your kids. But, it’s important to review some safety tips before they head out the door.

The National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH) recommends some of the following safety tips for kids heading out to trick-or-treat:

  • Give kids a route to follow through your neighborhood
  • Make sure kids bring candy home to be checked before eating it
  • Provide flashlights and put reflective tape on kids’ clothing
  • Remind kids to cross the street only at crosswalks
  • Walk as an adult chaperone with kids younger than 12

For more information, talk to your doctor about safety tips to review with kids before they go trick-or-treating.

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What types of Halloween safety rules should I talk about with my kids?

It’s a good idea to talk about Halloween safety rules with your kids before heading out for a night of trick-or-treating.

Whether your kids are younger or older, talking through ways to have a safe Halloween is an important part of having a healthy holiday.

Some safety rules to talk about, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC) and the American Academy of PediatricsOff Site Icon (AAP), include:

  • Be careful around lit pumpkins in case a candle is inside
  • Carry a flashlight
  • Cross the street at crosswalks
  • Know your address and phone number
  • Let an adult check through candy at home before you eat any
  • Never enter a stranger’s home
  • Only visit well-lit houses
  • Review emergency information, including when to call 9-1-1
  • Stay in well-lit areas
  • Stay on an agreed route and be home by a specific time (if children are older and going in a group without parents)
  • Stay with a group of well-known friends
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever possible
  • Walk with an adult, if you’re younger than 12
  • Wear bright colors or reflective clothing

For more safety rules to go over with your kids about before Halloween, talk to your doctor.

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Thanks to Premier Physician Network doctors for answering these common questions about holiday health:

Additional Resources

This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your physician. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a physician.

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