Q [Whole Family]: “My kids love the annual Thanksgiving romp with their cousins. But every year, my kiddos come home sick. Sometimes even the long weekend isn’t enough to recover and they miss school or worse, we pass it around until Christmas like a bad fruitcake. How can I keep our family healthy for the holiday?”
A: The holidays are a time for family, friends and celebration, but they can also be a time of stress, over-indulgence and illness. However, there are ways to ward off these season spoilers to keep your holidays merry and bright. The most important thing you can do to ensure you are ready for every holiday gathering: Get the flu shot.
Contrary to popular belief, the flu shot will not make you sick. In fact, it does just the opposite. While the flu shot is recommended for everyone, it is most highly recommended for those who are vulnerable to serious complications should they contract the flu, including seniors, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems. Additionally, it can also be lifesaving for those who suffer from chronic disease such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
Once you’ve checked this off your holiday list, remember to continue to practice good hygiene in the coming weeks. While the flu can be a complete holiday ruiner, nobody wants to be sidelined by a cold, either. Even after your Turkey Day event, the holidays are sure to be filled with shopping in crowded malls, large parties and community events. Remind your kids to wash their hands as often as they can and always be sure to carry hand sanitizer for an on-the-go fix when soap and water aren’t available.
Keeping illness at bay is just one aspect of ensuring a healthy holiday. Make sure to also stay hydrated, which can help prevent overeating, and fill your plate with salads and other healthy items before turning to less-nutritious side dishes and desserts.
While out shopping, park in the farthest lot and walk and opt for the stairs instead of the escalator. Equally important: Live in the moment. The holidays often leave people stressed, run down and feeling hectic, which can lead to illness. Take time to stop and really enjoy the time, enjoy your family and enjoy your friends. And that is my wish for you — to have a happy and healthy holiday season.
Dr. Elizabeth Yanni is a dual-trained specialist in internal medicine and pediatrics with Hoag Medical Group. Her involvement with Hoag spans a decade dating back to her volunteering days at Hoag while attending medical school at UC Irvine, where she earned her medical degree. www.hoagmedicalgroup.com