Holidays are a time to enjoy family, friends and food. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. In the interest of the short attention span many of us have at this time of year, I’m going for a few quick thoughts about health today.
For starters, throughout the rest of this month, try to remember the 80/20 guideline. If you can make the right decision for yourself 80 percent of the time, you will be able maintain your health and wellness during the next 20 days.
Try to be active for at least 30 minutes a day. This could include walking the dog, dancing with your special love, walking with a friend or whatever activity makes you happy.
During this time, you can plan your day, review your to-do list, make Christmas plans or connect with friends. Getting out of bed on these really cold mornings is rough, but consider this: Not only has regular physical activity been shown to lower the risk of early death and disease, including heart disease, cancers, Type 2 diabetes and depression, it lowers the risk of cognitive decline and hip fractures. Yes, cognitive decline. When I lock myself out of my vehicle, I have to wonder what my situation would be if I didn’t get to walk and talk each morning.
The sugar we consume in desserts this month won’t top what we consume annually from sweetened drinks. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that per capita we consume an average of 171 calories daily from the sugars added to our beverages. This includes soda, fruit drinks, tea, coffee, sport drinks and flavored milks.
Males between the ages of 12-19 had the highest mean intake at 239 calories a day from sugar in beverages. Curses to my 16 ounces of chai every morning!
This may not sound so bad until one realizes that those extra 171 calories a day works out to 18 pounds annually. Using the 80/20 guideline, cutting my chai down to 8 ounces every other day is a decent compromise.
The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine reminds us that alcohol provides calories but no essential nutrients and should be consumed in moderation.
Apps for health
For those of you who use smartphones, I have discovered a couple of apps worth sharing. Earlier, I told you about the excellent free app My Fitness Pal that lets you log your daily food intake as well as exercise and identify your intake of a few key nutrients.
Recently, I found Cooking Planit, a free app to help you prepare and time a complete meal so different dishes can be ready at the same time. With family festivities, this is a handy one. Another app, Meal Makeovers, which costs $1.99, features nutrient-rich versions of some holiday food favorites.
Enjoy your holidays, take care of yourself and laugh a lot. I wish the best to you and your family.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6461. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.