Happy HalloThanksMus!

What is that, you say?! It's a term I ran across living in Branson. It's the running together of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. You see, in Branson, we start to celebrate the Christmas Season around Halloween. We get a lot of visitors to see the lights, shows, etc. and it seems to all mingle together. It cracks me up every time I hear it!

It also makes me think about the implications all of these Holidays have on our health. Traditional "Cold and Flu" season seems to start in the fall. I can't help but wonder what impact all the sugar consumption has on our immune systems. Is "Cold and Flu" season actually more of "Increased Sugar Season"? I think there is a strong possibility that the increase in illness might have something to do with the fact that many people start with Halloween Candy and don't stop with the sugar consumption until they are about to pop from eating too many Christmas cookies around the New Year.

So, how do you keep your Holiday Cheer and not sabotage your health goals? Great question! Here are the things that I focus on. I hope you will find them helpful as well!

- Enjoy Halloween but limit the damages. I'm actually not a huge fan of the demonic, creepy aspect of Halloween, so we tend to celebrate with "Fall parties" either as part of a church event or with friends. We have also been known to go and do something fun like a trampoline park instead of trick-or-treating. I let the kids get as much candy as they want and then pick their favorite 5 pieces. We toss the rest. This allows them to experience the excitement of the events without eating pounds of candy!

- Keep on Track with your workouts. It's easy to over-commit this time of year. Especially with chillier mornings, you might be tempted to hit snooze and sleep through the morning workout. It's super important to make this time for you to stay healthy and active

- Bring healthy dishes to dinner parties. If you are going to a big Thanksgiving dinner, you can bring your favorite healthy dish so you will know there is at least something healthy you can enjoy. Stick to protein sources like Turkey and stay away from the breads and desserts. If you absolutely must have something, just limit to about 2 bites and savor it. Fill your plate with veggies, too, to keep you full.

- Eat before you go to events where Junk food will be readily available. If you go to an event famished, you might be tempted to reach for convenient, processed snacks. Carry health snacks like apples, nuts and cut up veggies so you have a healthy alternative. Make sure you plan ahead so you don't make poor choices simply because you are famished.

- Maintain a sane schedule. This time of year can be crazy busy. Just make sure you allow enough time to take care of yourself. You may have to say no to a few things, but I think it's worth it to make sure you get enough sleep, take the time to prepare healthy meals and exercise.

- Keep an eye on emotional eating. For many people, the Holiday season is full of joy and fun, but it can also be stressful and even sad if you have lost loved ones, feel isolated, etc. If you find yourself making choices that are sabotaging your health, take the time to investigate why you are eating what you are. Is there an emotional component you need to address?

- Get help if you need it. Many people know they need to make a change to improve their health, but just write off this time of year as a loss. Don't do that! That issue you are noticing now most likely won't get better by ignoring it. Making positive changes to improve your health are good any time of the year. Don't wait to make a New Year's Resolution. Start making changes now.

I hope you find this season full of fun, joy AND abundant health!

Dr. Jeni

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