Everything in moderation — even the eggnog

Too much eating, drinking and stress can make for an unhealthy holiday

In this second of a two-part series, Dr. Davidicus Wong offers hints for a healthy holiday. Read part one here.

This season brings special challenges to your health — physical and emotional.

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For most of us, it’s the season of excess with temptations to overeat tasty sweets and other calorie-packed or fatty treats. We may drink to elevate our spirits or drown our sorrows.

The New Year will bring the sober month when bank balances are low while our bodies’ fat deposits are up. Blood sugar and cholesterol levels are usually worse than at any other time of the year. The hangover from Christmas excess can last beyond a season.

Health
Overeating during the holidays can lead to elevated blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

The best rule is moderation. You can enjoy the occasional chocolate, but can you stop after just one? Balance the extra calories with physical activity. To burn off the bad, dance around the Christmas tree or go for a walk (wearing bright colours and watching out for impaired drivers).

I tell my patients that if they cannot resist their favourite holiday treats, at least eat slowly and enjoy every bite.

health
While you're celebrating the holidays, your liver might enjoy a break.

Remember the capacity of your liver does not increase over the holidays. The average man should have no more than three standard drinks in one day; the average woman two. Beyond this exceeds the capacity of the liver.

Though the commercials, music and movies entice us to celebrate and spend, some of us — and perhaps a part of every adult — just want the month to pass by. It's the season of mixed emotions. Anticipation and disappointment. Togetherness and loneliness. Joy and sorrow. Celebration and grieving.

For those who have barely enough to feed themselves and their family, the luxury of gifts and great dinners are beyond reach.  If you’re out of work, struggling with illness, living alone or mourning a loved one, you may feel set apart from the rest of the world that is celebrating, but you’re not really alone.

It is the contrast between what we’d like and what we have that brings suffering.

The holidays are not perfect times for any families, but many adults are reminded of happier times lost in the past or sad Christmases past that haunt them still.

health
Your emotional health can take a beating during the holidays if you don't take care of yourself.

We have to accept the past and the aspects of our present that we cannot change, but we can reach out to others in need — the need to be part of a community and a circle of care.

When you are stressed by the traffic and lineups remember that you contribute to traffic and you are a part of the crowd. Though we think we are fighting alone against the competition of the world, we are all in this together.

What if we chose to work together, sharing greater goals and seeking lasting happiness not just for ourselves and our own but for every one in every community?

This season, celebrate your connection — with every imperfect relationship in your life and with every human being that you meet. We all just want to be happy, but we can never do it alone.

Consider what you can do in some big or small way to make someone’s day and every time you get the impulse to say or do something good, give in and do it.

Let us choose to be happy with an imperfect present and in spite of the past — all the good in your life today may not be here tomorrow. Don’t miss out on what you have this day. The present — with its transient blessings and brief opportunities — may be your greatest gift.

Davidicus Wong is a family physician and his Healthwise columns appear regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in health, see his website at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.

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