Damage Control

First, I want to personally wish everyone a Very Happy and Healthy Holiday Season.

The title “Damage Control” maybe doesn’t sound too positive, but at this time of year everyone you talk to seems to have concerns about the Holiday Season. Rather than the Holiday Season being a joyous, fun time to spend with family and friends, it is becoming more and more a commercial nightmare.

My December Column is in two parts. First, some tips on controlling your weight over the coming weeks, and second, some warnings to help you avoid ending up in the emergency room.

As we know, our nation is suffering a weight crisis. There is no way to sugarcoat it (perhaps a poor choice of words!), but we are overweight and a large percentage of us are morbidly obese. The Holidays don’t help the fight either, because they become a time of over-indulgence and over-consumption. It seems like the motto at this time of year is “nothing in moderation”, with over-eating, over-consumption of alcohol, and over-partying. Then, on January 1st, everyone wakes up feeling guilty, and goes back to a year of trying to lose the weight they gained during the excesses of the Holidays.

If you ask what people dread most about this time of year, 90% will say, “putting on weight,” and it has been shown that most people gain between 5 and 10 pounds during the Holidays.

Here are a few simple suggestions that can help you avoid the usual pitfalls. If you struggle with your weight, don’t undo all your recent hard work. Use these nutrition tips and experience a slimmer season.

Eat a snack before the party

Snacking on low-glycemic carbohydrates and lean proteins such as apple slices with natural peanut butter, raw veggies with hummus or nonfat unsweetened yogurt with berries, help to curb your hunger, so that you eat less at the party.

Limit alcohol

Each 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of hard alcohol contains roughly 100 calories. Enjoy a drink, and then switch to sparkling water with lemon or lime. Steer clear of higher calorie drinks such as egg nog, frozen margaritas and hot buttered rum.

Eat lots of salad

Start your meals with a large salad topped with lots of veggies and low fat/fat-free dressing, or a broth-based soup filled with vegetables.

Studies have shown that eating salads or broth-based soups prior to a meal results in less calories consumed during the meal.

Keep the Holidays Accident Free!

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 13,000 people in the U.S. end up in the emergency room during the Holidays because of mishaps with trees, lights and toys. That’s a frightening number, and we want to help you avoid being adding to these statistics.

Santa Clause, Passed out drunk

Here are a few basic tips to avoid Holiday injuries

First, be very careful setting up the tree. Make sure your ladder is sturdy, steady and safe. Falls from ladders can be a major problem. Also remember, not only can you topple down, but so can the tree.

Make sure you secure the tree so children and pets can’t pull it down on top of themselves. Some people use a gate around the tree or secure it to the wall. When decorating the tree, be careful to put the trimmings up high enough so infants and toddlers and pets can’t get to them. Decorations, like tinsel, are tempting to put in their mouths, and ornaments are frequently breakable.

Think about your decorations. Live holly and mistletoe are poisonous and if eaten. They can be toxic to both people and pets.

The most common injuries seen at this time of year are cuts caused by those seemingly impenetrable plastic packages that toys come in.

“They’re almost impossible to open, so people take to using box cutters, knives and scissors. One false move and your hand is slashed. The ER does a lot of stitching up. Take it slow, and be really careful opening those toys for the kids. Always cut away from your hand,” advises Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician.

Lights, which are usually balled up after the holidays and left in the box, can be a hazard, too. Make sure the bulbs work, there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Dr. Stork says many people show up in the ER with burns and shocks from faulty lights, or from falling off ladders when stringing them.

Always, always, always remember to unplug lights at night and when away from home to avoid a fire.

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