Health Watch: Beat the ‘holiday bulge’
The holiday temptations of hot chocolate, savory turkey, warm pumpkin pie and other enticing treats can launch you into the seasonal spirit. But they can also make your New Year's getting-in-shape resolutions harder to achieve. This year, get ahead of the "holiday bulge" by making smart, healthy and nutritional decisions.
Fitness and weight-loss expert for Health.MSN.com, Dr. Martica Heaner, knows how hard it can be to lose weight after the holiday season.
"If you tend to struggle with your weight, or have recently lost it, research shows that you may be more vulnerable to hard-to-lose weight gain over the holidays," says Heaner, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist. She admits that it may be unrealistic to try to lose weight during peak feasting and party months. A better strategy: try not to gain.
Heaner shares some nutrition tips for making smart, healthy diet and exercise choices:
- Sweat it out. If you are going to be eating more over the season, you must exercise more -- no ifs, ands or buts. Sure, parties will crowd out your schedule, but find a way to fit in extra walking and extra workouts or make sure to dance at every party you attend. Plan an extra activity in your day, even if it's simply dancing to two songs on the radio before and after your brush your teeth.
- Weigh every day. Some people advise against focusing on scale numbers. But keeping tabs on your normal weight range will help you spot when your body weight creeps higher. If you catch yourself at a couple of pounds heavier than normal, you can modify your behaviors much more easily than if you let yourself go for several months and suddenly find that you've gained 10 or 20 pounds.
- Plan for parties. One thing is certain, if you go out, you will be tempted. Chances are you will succumb to cocktails, cookies and second helpings of holiday foods. Control those calories by visiting the buffet table only once and socialize away from it. If hors d'oeuvres are being passed around, stick to three or four max, or make it a habit to turn down every other offering.
- Use online resources. Many Web sites offer in-depth nutritional and exercise information that can help you learn more about the foods you eat and show you how to optimize your workouts.
- Stick to a pre-set calorie quota. Each morning, decide how many calories you will eat for the day. Then count calories by keeping a running record on your smart phone or notebook. If you'll be at a party later where you will likely eat extra calories, commit to sticking to small portions -- and therefore fewer calories -- during earlier meals that day.
- Cut back on alcohol. If sumptuous feasts and holiday treats are already adding several hundred extra calories to your day, consider limiting the alcohol calories you consume. Even the lowest-calorie drink contains at least 100 to 200 calories, and the more delicious, the more fattening (spiked eggnog and fruity frozen concoctions can contain 300 to 500 calories each serving).
New study: Oxygen treatment may help headaches
Patients with a cluster headache were more likely to report being pain-free within 15 minutes of treatment with high-flow oxygen than patients who received a placebo treatment, according to a new study.
Cluster headache attacks, which are characterized by bouts of excruciating pain usually near the eye or temple, typically last for 15 minutes to 3 hours untreated and have a frequency of 1 every other day for up to 8 attacks a day.
The current treatment for acute attacks of cluster headache is injection with the drug sumatriptan, but frequent dosing is not recommended because of adverse effects. The study suggests oxygen may be a good alternative.
Did You Know?
Because of the aging U.S. population, the number of hip fractures is expected to reach about 650,000 by 2050. -- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Health Tip: Dealing with addiction
The holidays are a joyous time, but for those struggling with addiction or who have a family member trying to stay sober, holiday get-togethers can be a challenge.
Addiction treatment center Hazelden offers some recommendations:
- Have a direct conversation with the family member or friend in recovery before the holiday celebration. Tell them you are proud of them and ask if there is anything you can do to make them feel more comfortable at the party.
- Understand that families cannot cure addiction and they cannot control it. Nor can families cause a relapse during the holidays -- it's up to the recovering person to be responsible for their own recovery. But families can be supportive of loved ones in recovery.
- Approach a friend or family member who is in addiction treatment the same way you'd approach them if they were battling any other chronic illness. Don't ignore it, but don't base the whole experience of your holiday around that person's situation.
- There should be holiday activities that aren't completely focused on alcohol. Provide alternative drinks and watch out for certain foods with the flavor of alcohol.
Number to Know: 34
Researchers have found that cancer is 34 percent more likely to recur in breast cancer survivors who engage in moderate to heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages (at least three to four drinks a week).
-- Kaiser Permanente
Children’s Health: Important role for doctors
The advice of a pediatrician to place infants on their backs to sleep appears to be the single most important motivator in getting parents to follow these recommendations, according to new research.
Research from UT Southwestern identified three reasons a caregiver might or might not follow the recommendation: concerns for an infant's comfort; fear that the infant might choke while sleeping on his or her back; and whether a physician advised the caregiver to always place an infant on his or her back to sleep.
Multiple studies have shown that placing infants on their backs to sleep limits the risk of SIDS, the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. younger than 1.
Senior Health: Alzheimer’s and the holidays
Alzheimer's disease affects both family and community life. Holiday observances are no exception. Rather than dwell on how much things have changed or worry about what might go wrong, focus on making the holidays as enjoyable as possible.
- Make preparations together. Remember to concentrate on the process, rather than the result.
- Tone down your decorations. Blinking lights and large decorative displays can cause disorientation. Avoid lighted candles and other safety hazards.
- Host quiet, slow-paced gatherings. Music, conversation and meal preparation all add to the noise and stimulation of an event. Yet for a person who has Alzheimer's, a calm, quiet environment usually is best. Keep daily routines in place as much as possible and, as needed, provide your loved one a place to rest during family get-togethers.
-- Mayo Clinic
GateHouse News Service