By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
We are now well and truly in the midst of the holiday season and this means all of our favourite foods, drinks and holiday parties! While most of us look forward to spending time with our friends and loved ones at this time of year, it can be a cause of concern to those of us trying to remain focused on being healthy. To that end, here is some guidance to help you survive the holidays.
The key difficulty that most of us face during the holidays is the ever-present temptation to overindulge, whether it be in food, alcohol or even cigarettes. This is because there is an abundance of food and drink on offer at office parties, family gatherings and social get-togethers, much of it delicious – and unhealthy! We also sometimes feel pressure to partake in overindulgence because we do not wish to be seen as being a poor guest.
Try establishing your limits before you attend an event, both for food and drink. Tell yourself, and a partner if you find this helps, how many drinks you will be limiting yourself to and how much you will eat. If you find it hard to make sensible decisions when you’re hungry, then eat a small, healthy meal beforehand.
When we drink too much, this can lead to further lack of restraint, and many people find themselves reaching for second helpings or even cigarettes more than they would normally. This is an important motivator in exercising self-control: by limiting yourself to one or two drinks, you are not only reducing the amount of liquor you intake but also minimising the chance of a slip-up in your eating or smoking habits.
To keep your body working at its best, you may find it useful to also ensure that you have several alcohol-free days a week, which will give you time to recover. If you do have to go out or host a party on one of these days, or if you have reached your drink limit for the day, then there are often non-alcoholic options available, such as Dunkley’s Eggnog, sparkling water or homemade mulled soft cider.
The closer we get to Christmas and New Year’s the more late night events we often have. The combination of this with a less well-balanced diet can have a deteriorating effect on your health. This means that it is more important than ever to ensure that you are getting all the vitamins that you need, either through your diet or by taking supplements, such as a complete multivitamin/mineral (One-A-Day or Centrum for example) and extra B and C vitamins to boost your energy and immune system. Look for a B-Complex and at least 500 to 1000mg of Vitamin C.
It is also important to make sure that you are getting enough sleep, ideally more than seven hours a night. Our bodies need more sleep in these months, as we are often fighting off seasonal illnesses. This may mean having to make excuses to leave an event before it gets too late or being more efficient once you’re home at getting yourself into bed. Many people find it useful to ban electronics, such as phones and laptops, from the bedroom as the light emitted by the screens can make it difficult to sleep and can also distract you from your night-time routine. Alternatively, for those struggling to fall asleep, supplements such as Melatonin or Calcium and Magnesium can help. Sleep aids like Unisom or ZzzQuil should only be used for a few days to help you fall asleep. Melatonin is excellent in helping to reset your body clock so that you get a more restful sleep and it can be taken on a regular basis.
Lastly, while our schedules can go a bit haywire, it is important to keep exercising. Making time for your usual workout may seem like unappealing prospect, particularly if you have had a late night the night before, but you will feel better for it. If all else fails, make sure to hit the dancefloor: energetic dancing can burn more than 400 calories an hour!
With these tips in mind, you should be ready to face the oncoming month! From all of us at Lindo’s, we wish you a very happy holiday season.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.