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How Healthy Are You?

Overindulgence Is A Holiday Tradition

Ohio State Offers Cheery Support

Many overindulge in food and drink during the holidays taking less time for themselves.

By John Salak –

This will come as a surprise to absolutely no one. The endless flurry of activities around the holiday season makes it harder for many Americans to eat healthy, exercise properly and get enough rest.

Researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center came to these less than startling conclusions after surveying more than 1,000 Americans 18 years and older.

The survey specifically revealed that two-thirds of those polled admitted to overindulging in food during this festive period, while about a third admitted to drinking too much at the holidays. Beyond this, nearly 45 percent reported they take a break from exercise and more than half reported feeling tired and noted they have less time for themselves.

“Holiday travel, activities with friends and family, and trying to get a bunch of things done can cause people to lose track of their healthy habits,” explained Dr. Barbara Bawer, a family medicine physician at Wexner and clinical assistant professor at the university’s College of Medicine.

The greater danger is that bad habits can feed off each other, making a tough situation worse.

“If one healthy habit drops off, it can affect other areas very quickly,” she explained, stressing the need to stick with normal routines as much as possible.

“Once you’re out of a routine, which typically happens around the holidays, it’s really hard to get back on track partly because the motivation is no longer there,” Bawer acknowledged while offering up a possible solution. “Remember that it’s OK to say no.”

The Buckeye team offered some other advice as well to cope with the holiday’s tendency for overindulgence and excessive demands.

The recommendations include:

On Diet

Plan ahead. An evening event should not be precluded by eating less during the day. Instead, have a high protein, low carb meal earlier in the day so you don’t overeat. Also, try to avoid sampling every entrée or treat offered as a way of limiting calorie intake.

On Exercise

Keep to the regular schedule as much as possible. If holiday events prevent this, don’t punish yourself. Be flexible, and consider a physical activity with family and friends like going for a walk, bike ride or a game of basketball.

On Sleep

Try to keep your sleep in sync by going to bed and waking up at normal times even when traveling. Avoid overuse of supplements like melatonin, which over time can disrupt healthy sleep-wake cycles.

On Alcohol

It is easy to drink more than usual at the holidays, but binge drinking is a no-go. This usually involves five drinks for men and four drinks for women in one setting. It is also important not to drink on an empty stomach and to consume plenty of water while imbibing. Also, don’t feel guilty about saying no to excessive drinking.

 

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