Healthy Holiday Tips

Stephen Barnes, D.O., a family practice physician with OSU Medical Center, offers several tips to help start your holiday season off right.

By: Mary Bransford | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: November 2010

Dr. Stephen Barnes of OSU Medical Center offers ­several tips on how to have a healthy holiday season.

Dr. Stephen Barnes of OSU Medical Center offers ­several tips on how to have a healthy holiday season.

Fall is the perfect season to begin healthy holiday habits. Stephen Barnes, D.O., is a family practice physician with OSU Medical Center. He offers several tips to help start your season off right. Dr. Barnes also encourages maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout the holidays, so you may not need to make resolutions that are hard to keep in the coming year.

Make fall yard work fun. As we all know, in Oklahoma, the leaves are sure to fall…and lots of them. Dr. Barnes says to make fall yard work fun. “Have kids come up with different ways to pick up leaves or pine cones (i.e., squatting, bending, leaning, stretching, or balancing on one foot). Provide kids with rakes and other tools that are kid-sized for comfort and safety. Remember that children and adolescents should be active for at least one hour a day, and adults should be active for at least two and a half hours a week; of course much more is ideal. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and insect repellent to protect you and your family from the sun, mosquitoes, and ticks while you are working in the yard.”

Get a flu shot. Thanksgiving and Christmas usually means you will be in close contact with many different people, putting you at higher risk of contracting colds and flu. Dr. Barnes suggests a yearly flu shot is the best defense for avoiding the flu. If you are sick with a cold or flu, Dr. Barnes says to pass on those holiday invitations until you are well.

Have a plan to avoid holiday weight gain. “So often, overeating is connected to a primitive, emotional place inside us. Before we know it, we mindlessly begin eating – and even when we are not hungry,” shares Dr. Barnes. “Continually bring yourself back to the ‘here and now,’ notice what’s in your hand, notice what’s on your plate, and pay attention to what you are eating. Go party by party, with a plan for each event. Limit the number of dishes you will eat, how much you will eat at each course and, if there are many food choices, limit yourself to the three foods you absolutely love the most. The key is to put parameters around how much you will consume, and then stick to your plan.”

Remember to take your medications. Holidays often disrupt routines and may cause you to forget your life-saving medications. As you note social appointments, add a reminder to take your medications or order refills. If you are traveling, be sure to take enough medications with you in case of delays, and have a copy of your prescriptions in case of loss. Be sure to take a phone number for your doctor along with your health insurance cards, in case of emergency. Carry your medications in your carry-on luggage if you are flying.

Fight Holiday Depression.

  1. Check traditions. Discard those that are no longer fun, and create new and meaningful ones.
  2. Simplify your routine. Bake only one or two types of cookies instead of ten or twelve.
  3. Prevent money problems – don’t create them. Give gifts of time and yourself, or draw names for gift exchanges.
  4. Enjoy activities that are free, such as driving around to look at holiday decorations, going window shopping without buying, and making a snowman with children.
  5. Exercise. Get outdoors, get fresh air, and work out the built-up stress.
  6. Don’t go overboard. Enjoy the special holiday foods that you only get at this time of year, but don’t overdo it.
  7. Take time outs. Grab 15 to 30 minutes for yourself to revitalize and recharge when you find yourself getting weary.

Parents and caregivers… practice what you preach. It’s easy to tell your family what to do. But, it’s even better to show them what to do and how to do it. Dr. Barnes suggests we start the fall off with healthy habits. “Eat healthy, be active, get check-ups, get appropriate vaccinations (including flu), be smoke-free, manage stress, wear seat belts, wash hands, and even simple things like wear helmets when you enjoy fall bike rides.”

Teaching your family how to do healthy things truly does help build life-long healthy habits and relationships. For more information, or to make an appointment with Dr. Stephen Barnes, call (918) 748-8136.

For more information, contact

OSU Medical Center

(918) 599-1000

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