Eat, drink and be healthy this holiday season

Man blowing his nose
Don’t wind up like this!
Credit: Getty Images

The holidays are a time to burn your candles at both ends, but you have to be careful to not flame out. The pressure and stress from a combination of year-end work commitments, social events, family get-togethers, shopping and financial strain can easily weaken or overwhelm your immune system. The usual seasonal increase in colds and flu at this time of year makes it even more important to do everything you can to avoid illness when you can least afford to be down and out.

Eating

Make sure you neither eat too much, nor too little. Overindulging will not only put on a few extra holiday pounds, but makes you more likely to develop esophageal reflux from a distended stomach at bedtime. This overnight trickle of stomach acid bubbling up into the back of your throat while lying flat in bed can not only cause heartburn but may also lead to a sore throat or dry cough. This is not only a nuisance that is often mistaken for an upper respiratory infection (common cold), but may actually increase your odds of getting a sinus infection, or bronchitis by decreasing your resistance.

Eating too little may make you more likely to get intoxicated, as the alcohol in a glass of holiday cheer is absorbed much more quickly from an empty stomach.

Drinking

With so many social obligations and reasons to celebrate, there is ample opportunity to drink alcohol on a daily basis — and lots of it. “Everything in moderation” should be your motto. Try to drink a glass of water with each alcoholic beverage (one for one). No matter your sex, weight or choice of adult beverage, if you have two or more drinks in under two hours, you will likely be impaired. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let your friends drink and drive. Work out a designated driver in advance with friends, take a taxi or public transportation and don’t be afraid to ask if you can sleep over at your host’s or friend’s home if driving under the influence is your only other option. Drinking coffee will not sober you up.

Being healthy

The 2013-14 influenza season has officially arrived in the U.S., and there are any variety of cold viruses around that have been making people miserable with sore throats, nasal congestion and coughs. Shaking hands, kissing under the mistletoe (or anywhere else) and traveling on a plane can all spread illness rapidly. Get a flu shot, wash your hands frequently, keep them away from your face and blow kisses where you can. Last but not least, if you happen to hook up, use condoms, as no one wants an STD for Christmas.


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