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  • Writer's pictureMark Roberts

Holiday Health

The holiday season is fast approaching. Thanksgiving is the time of year families get together to celebrate and give thanks. Many people go with traditions and customs handed down generation by generation. And some make up new ways to give thanks and to remember the season. Thanksgiving also traditionally begins the holidays and the Christmas Season. This time of year also is one of the busiest retail seasons, with "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" providing billions of dollars in sales. This year's retail and internet business promises to be one of the biggest yet.

As well, this holiday is a time when safety and health are paramount. The National Safety Council has predicted there will be over 400 traffic fatalities and another 44,700 injuries from car crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. More than 40 percent of holiday car accidents involve alcohol, according to the National Highway Safety Association.

Secondly, overindulging on turkey day wine, especially if you’re older and obese, can disrupt regular heart rhythms leading to “Holiday Heart Syndrome” an American Heart Journal study showed way back in 1978. Further strain on the ticker comes from digesting a massive meal. As a recent University of California study found, cheering for a losing football team resulted in a 15 percent spike in heart attacks among men and a 27 percent spike among women. Mashed potatoes and gravy, Grandma’s apple pie, and other holiday favorites can be a joyous part of any celebration. But to feel your best, you know you need to eat in moderation and stay active. How can you avoid temptation when delicious foods and calories abound?

Here are some healthy eating tips from the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

  • Enjoy a healthy breakfast to help prevent overeating later on.

  • Eat what’s best for you first. Fill at least half your plate with fresh fruit and veggies. You’ll have less room for the rest.

  • Bring a healthy dish to a party.

  • Fruit by itself makes an excellent dessert. Try placing a bowl of clementines or apples on the holiday table.

  • Avoid beverages that are high in calories and sugar.

  • Keep a food journal to help track what you’re eating.

  • Instead of focusing on food, spend time with family, friends, and activities.

  • Stay positive. If you eat more on some days, eat less on others. If you miss a workout, exercise a little longer the next day.

Around the holidays, you often find yourself with too many food options, for too many days in a row. It can be challenging to decide what to eat and when to say no. Here is more detailed information about this topic from the NIH:

Third, More than 4,000 fires occur on Thanksgiving Day, U.S. Fire Administration statistics revealed. One culprit: Deep-fried turkeys. Each year, they cause approximately five deaths, 60 injuries, the destruction of 900 homes and more than $15 million in property damage, the National Fire Protection Association reported.

And fourth, Americans will consume over 51 million turkeys on Thursday, Food Safety News reported. And if the bird isn’t fresh or properly cooked, many of them also risk serving up a side of salmonella. Cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees is the best way to avoid poisoning, FSN advised. As for leftovers, store them within two hours or toss them.

And finally, because turkey bones splinter, they can may choke dogs or cats, the Veterinary Medical Association warned. Dogs should also be kept away from any dish that contains onions, leeks or garlic because they are known to damage canine red blood cells. Likewise, raisins and grapes can induce kidney failure. And chocolate, especially vast amounts of the dark variety, can lead to serious gastrointestinal symptoms and even death in dogs.

According to Forbes Health, between holiday travel and traditions, it’s easy to feel as though there’s no time for normalcy, especially when it comes to your fitness routine. With the pile-on of events and tasks to do before the holidays hit, it’s not shocking that Americans exercise less in winter months, least of all in December, according to a four-year study tracking American exercise habits.

But the holidays don’t need to be a time to send all physical health efforts down the drain. Established exercise routines can stay intact—and can even make you feel better.

The holiday season can demand flexibility, which makes maintaining routines difficult. But just because physical activity might look different during this time doesn’t mean you’re not reaping the same rewards.

Mental health can be difficult to maintain on a typical day, and the holidays have been known to make that challenge worse. Though holiday stress may come in varying degrees based on factors like household responsibilities, income level, financial stability and time constraints, many individuals find themselves holding their shoulders a little tighter during this festive time of year. But just because this stress comes with a side of carols and twinkling lights doesn’t mean it has any less impact on your health. Read more about how to manage your health during this holiday season:

So, the need to stay safe and healthy goes beyond just celebrating good food, good drink, good business and good family and friends. Beyond the festivities, there is a deeper meaning to the reason for Thanksgiving.

In 1789, George Washington, a freshly minted first President and Father of a new nation, proclaimed a time to be set aside for all Americans to honor God in a time to give thanks for the blessings bestowed on a country that was brand new, and that had just come through almost a decade of war with its former parent nation, Great Britain. Still searching for a new identity as the United States of America, the population of three million new citizens were looking for a cohesive way to make it in the world.

According to The Heritage Foundation, following a resolution of Congress, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday the 26th of November 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

Reflecting American religious practice, Presidents and Congresses from the beginning of the republic have from time to time designated days of fasting and thanksgiving (the Thanksgiving holiday we continue to celebrate in November was established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and made into law by Congress in 1941).

In setting aside a day for Thanksgiving, Washington established a non-sectarian tone for these devotions and stressed political, moral, and intellectual blessings that make self-government possible, in addition to personal and national repentance. Although the First Amendment prevents Congress from establishing a religion or prohibiting its free exercise, Presidents, as well as Congress, have always recognized the American regard for sacred practices and beliefs.

Transcending passionate quarrels over the proper role of religion in politics, the Thanksgiving Proclamation reminds us how natural their relationship has been. While church and state are separate, religion and politics, in their American refinement, prop each other up. Here is the proclamation:

“By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington”

Give thanks for both the tangible and intangible rewards you enjoy each day. Teach your children and grandchildren the true meaning of Thanksgiving and why it is such an important occasion. Be thankful for your success in business. There are many people who have lost jobs, are out of work, or who are experiencing financial hardship. Be kind and generous to those who are without. Take time to reflect on your blessings, and why you are thankful.

Give thanks to God for what He has provided no matter how much or how little you have. Don’t take it for granted. After all, you could be living in a country that is totally clueless about this time of year. What a shame that they miss all the blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Finally, if you need any help during the holidays to manage your health, reach out to professionals who can help you. Also, there are many health related products and services on this website that offer savings, health, and protection for you and your family. This is the time of year especially to count your blessings, take stock of your life, celebrate your family and friends, enrich your soul and spirit, deepen your faith and begin planning for the New Year.

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