Safe and Healthy Holidays

The holiday season is officially in full swing, and that means family, friends, food, and fun. This time of year can also mean added stress, exhaustion, and weight gain. With a little advance thought and planning, however, you can sail through the rest of this year and into 2012 with good health as a priority.

A common complaint that people have about the holidays is that there is too much tempting food, and it’s everywhere – family gatherings, parties, the workplace break room, you name it. Gaining weight feels inevitable. In fact, according to Cortez family physician Kathy Lynch, MD, studies show that the average person gains one pound during a typical holiday season. The problem is that they don’t lose that pound after the holidays are over. “Year after year of gaining just that small amount of weight adds up,” said Lynch.

To avoid weight gain over the holidays, Lynch recommends not going to parties hungry, choosing a smaller plate, and taking healthy dishes such as a fruit or veggie tray to potluck gatherings. If you’re hosting a get together, be sure to have food options available for yourself and guests that are not laden with excess fat, sugar, and salt.

When you’re out for a day of shopping, don’t wait until you’re famished to stop for a bite to eat, and avoid fast food if at all possible. “If you need something quick, opt for a sub sandwich instead of a burger and fries. If you’re at a sit-down restaurant, eat half your portion and take the other half home for later,” suggested Lynch.

Remember the “balanced plate” approach to eating, especially when faced with a table full of delicious food or a tempting buffet line. Fill half your plate with salad and vegetables first, then fill one-fourth of your plate with protein, and no more than the final fourth with starches such as bread or potatoes.

Staying active over the holidays can help you avoid weight gain. Taking a nice, long walk after a big meal will help you feel better after overeating and burn off excess calories.

“If you’re already in an exercise routine, bump it up a little during the holidays,” said Lynch. If you usually walk for 30 minutes each morning or evening, for example, schedule your walks for 45 minutes each day to accommodate for the fact that you’re probably going to be eating a little more than usual over the next few weeks.

Don’t use the excuse that you have houseguests to slack off on exercising this year. “Invite visitors to go to the gym with you, or take them on a hike,” said Lynch.

Individuals with health issues such as diabetes or heart problems need to be extra careful around the holidays. “If you have congestive heart failure, weigh yourself every day. You’re more likely to go into failure around this time of year because of all the salt that’s in holiday food,” said Lynch.

Diabetics should make food choices even more consciously than usual when attending parties and family gatherings where temptations abound. Hosts can help out by providing low sugar options for diabetic guests.

In addition to staying healthy over the holidays, focus on staying safe as well. Drinking responsibly is a smart move all year around, so don’t let the fact that you’re more social than usual be a reason to take chances. “If you go to parties or other gatherings, always have a designated driver,” said Lynch. “If both you and your spouse enjoy having a glass of wine, take turns being the one who opts for non-alcoholic drinks when you go out.” Good advice if you want to avoid a visit to the ER or county jail this holiday season.

Other safety points to keep in mind during the holidays include:

• Keep sidewalks, decks, and porches around your home clear of ice and snow. You’re probably accustomed to navigating in slippery conditions, but Aunt Betty from San Diego might not be so adept.

• Secure your Christmas tree so that it doesn’t topple over onto someone, and take care when using extension cords for holiday lights, both inside and outside the house.

• Be careful as you spend more time in the kitchen, especially if you have small children in the house. Turn hot pot handles in, be alert when using sharp knives, and wipe up spills from the floor as they occur.

And, finally, work toward keeping stress in check this holiday season. Get enough sleep and exercise, take time for yourself, breathe deeply, limit the amount of time you spend with family members who drive you a little crazy, and remember that you can’t “do it all.”

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” said Lynch. Of course you want to be a good hostess when friends and family come to visit, but keep in mind that the goal is to connect with people, most of whom won’t care or notice if there is a dust bunny in the corner of the room or that you didn’t make your whipped cream from scratch this year.

Keep these ideas and tips in mind to stay healthy and safe, and relax into the fun and festivities of this wonderful holiday season.
Southwest Health Notes is a public service feature provided by Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez, Colorado. The information provided herein is not intended as patient-specific medical advice or as a substitute for consultation with your personal healthcare provider.

Diabetes Support Group

Diabetes, Diabetic Support GroupLocal Support for People with Diabetes

Are you or someone you know diabetic? A support group for individuals with diabetes meets nearby! Join us the first Wednesday of every month from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. in the cafeteria at Southwest Memorial Hospital. Learn how to effectively manage your health concerns. Share ideas with others at these informative, informal meetings. Sessions are free and open to anyone with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Contact Jamie Ritthaler at 970-564-2352 for details.

A diabetic person may feel as if there’s too much to learn. They may feel overwhelmed as a result. You don’t have to do it alone. Join our free support group where you will receive help. Topics include:

  • What diabetes means to you and your loved ones
  • How to remain emotionally healthy
  • Best nutrional practices for your lifestyle
  • Exercise and physical fitness for all ages and body types

Teamwork Works

Connect with others with shared experiences so you can obtain better control of your health. Learn to manage blood sugar, improve your quality of life, and be less prone to depression. Because support from others reduces the burden you feel, your self-care is more likely to improve.

Diabetic Support Groups Help You…

  • Connect with others who face similar circumstances. It can be isolating to be around well-meaning family and friends because they don’t know exactly what it’s like to be living with diabetes.
  • Recognize self-blame. Rather than accuse yourself, you can learn to improve your outlook.

Diabetes Education has more information on how Southwest Health System helps area residents become as healthy as they can be. Additionally, the ADA may provide additional help.

Support Group: Bariatric Surgery for Weight Loss

Support Group Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Patients

Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Support Group

Have you or a loved one had bariatric surgery for weight loss? Considering a gastric bypass or other surgery to help manage obesity? There are important decisions regarding obesity and health. It makes sense to be well-informed and to join a support group.


Questions about Weight Loss Surgery?

  • Is bariatric surgery for me?
  • What is it like?
  • How can I best recover since weight loss surgery
  • How do I manage weight after bariatric surgery?
  • Are there other surgery options besides gastric bypass?
  • Should I just go on a diet and exercise program for weight loss?

A support group can address these concerns. You’ll be more likely to learn from others who have experienced weight loss challenges as a result. Another reason to join our support group is to find motivation and inspiration.

Weight Loss Support Group

At the Southwest Memorial Hospital, a free support group meets on the first Thursday of each month from 5 – 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria. Share ideas and exchange information with others who have had a gastric bypass, sleeve, or other weight loss surgery. Contact the group facilitator, Southwest Memorial Hospital’s Registered Dietitian Laura White, RDN at 970-564-2276 for more information. Our Nutrition Education Department also provides nutrition and pre-bariatric surgery counseling.

Visit the American Society for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery . It has more learning resources for those who have considered or experienced weight loss surgery.