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Healthy Holiday Tips from Texas Health Stephenville
12/11/2012

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — The holidays are fast approaching, but just because we all get busy with a flurry of parties and shopping and other festivities doesn’t mean we have to neglect our health. That’s the message from Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville.

“At Texas Health Stephenville we want to be your partner in creating a healthy lifestyle,” said Christopher Leu, hospital president. “Our caregivers and physicians on the medical staff spend each day working to heal others, but we find it very rewarding to help keep people well and home with their families for the holidays.”

The season for holiday treats is well underway and even if Thanksgiving’s turkey feast didn’t catch up with you an array of cookies and candies and Christmas feasts is still looming.

“It’s important that people take time for themselves over the holidays,” said Dr. Jearald Heflin, chief quality officer and a family medicine physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Stephenville. “Keep in mind that holidays are a short period of days to celebrate with family and friends, not an opportunity to overindulge from Halloween to New Year’s Eve.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends ways to prevent sliding off healthy routines during the holidays. Tips include:

  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day.
  • Limit foods and drinks that are high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol.
  • Be active for at least 2 1/2 hours a week by including activities that raise breathing and heart rates as well as strengthen muscles and bones.

Another question that seems to come up every year is how to avoid getting sick around kids and others gathered for holiday festivities.

“For many people, hugs from family at holiday parties and gathering closely around the tree are givens during the holiday season, but individuals need to remember to wash their hands and take simple steps to ensure they aren’t sick before New Year’s Eve,” Heflin said.

The CDC recommends individuals practice simple things, such as covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze (sneezing into your elbow is often the most efficient way), cleaning your hands often, and reminding children to practice healthy habits.

To help ensure hands are effectively cleaned, follow these steps:

  1. Wet hands with warm water.
  2. Apply soap.
  3. Rub hands together for at least 15 seconds (sing "Happy Birthday" twice or the "ABCs.") Be sure to wash front and back of hands, between fingers, around and under fingernails.
  4. Rinse well, letting water drip off fingers, not run down arms.
  5. Dry hands with paper towel.
  6. Turn off water with paper towel. (Remember that dirty hands turned the water faucet on.)

And with New Year’s Eve around the corner, it is important to set attainable goals.

For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children as young as preschoolers can set resolutions such as brushing their teeth twice a day and washing their hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.

The AAP suggests that children ages 5 to 12 years old could try to:

  • Drink milk and water while limiting soda and fruit drinks.
  • Find a sport or activity that they enjoy and can participate in at least three times a week, such as basketball, jumping rope, dancing, or playing tag.
  • Wear their seatbelt every time they get in a car and sit in a booster seat until they are tall enough to use a regular seat belt.

The AAP also recommends that teenagers could commit to:

  • Eat at least one fruit and one vegetable a day.
  • Remove negative thoughts, such as “I’m so dumb,” out of their vocabulary.
  • Find positive ways to deal with stress, such as exercise, reading or talking problems out.

“By setting goals as a family and including children in the process, parents are setting their children up for a healthy lifestyle for many years to come,” Heflin said. “By cooking healthy meals and engaging in physical activity together, families can build healthy habits and avoid the usual pitfalls of quickly forgotten resolutions.”

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville is a full-service acute care facility serving Erath and surrounding counties since 1926. The hospital offers surgical services, women’s and infants’ services, advanced diagnostic imaging, sleep lab and wound care services. Texas Health Stephenville, an affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, has received national accreditation as a Level IV Trauma Center and Cycle III Chest Pain Center as well as for its stereotactic breast biopsy program. The hospital was named a Baby-Friendly Hospital by the World Health Organization and received Pathway to Excellence® designation for a work environment that supports nurses.

For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355), or visit TexasHealth.org/Stephenville.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States. The health system includes 24 acute care and short-stay hospitals that are owned, operated, joint-ventured or affiliated with Texas Health Resources. It includes the Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial and Texas Health Harris Methodist hospitals, a large physician group, outpatient facilities, and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education.

For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit TexasHealth.org.

Doctors on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital.

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