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UC San Diego Health System Experts Recommend a Cup of Reason for Sampling the Season
From overeating to exercise and alcohol, UC San Diego Health System nutritionists, trauma specialists and poison experts offer insights for a health holiday.
Food for Thought
The holidays make it so easy to over-eat. Hanukkah celebrations kick off with Auntie’s latkes. Grandma’s sweet potatoes are a Christmas tradition. And then we wash it all down with one of Dad’s annual eggnog creations. Sound familiar? UC San Diego Health System nutrition experts say “Savor the seasonal offerings - just do it sensibly.”
“Being healthy doesn’t have to be boring,” said Cheryl Rock, PhD, RD, professor of Family and
Preventive Medicine at UCSD School of Medicine. “Include seasonal veggies in your meals and holiday dishes. Items such as squash, pumpkin and apples add flavor and interest to salads and baked goods, and they’re good for you.”
Santiago Horgan, MD, director for the Center for the Treatment of Obesity points out that using time off from work during the holidays to exercise is a great way to get a head start on New Year resolutions. “Gyms are usually not crowded this time of year.”
Designate a Driver
If you are planning to drink alcohol, plan to have a responsible adult driver who has committed to NOT drinking. Many holiday accidents can be completely avoided by designating a driver.
“Our trauma center admits more than 2,400 patients a year who require a Trauma Team Activation and often, those accidents can be prevented, including drunk driving,” explained Raul Coimbra, MD, PhD, professor of surgery and director, UC San Diego Division of Trauma, Burns and Critical Care. “Unintentional injury kills more people between the ages of one and 44 than any other disease or illness. Education is the key to stopping the spread of the disease known as trauma.”
The season is also filled with gorgeous decorations, plants and products usually not seen or available during the first 10 months of the year. “Unfortunately, this accounts for many problems during the holiday season,” said Lee Cantrell, PharmD, director of the California Poison Control System, San Diego Division, at UC San Diego Medical Center. “These unusual additions may pose a problem for curious pets and young children. For example, most people don’t know that all parts of mistletoe are toxic, and the berries may cause poisoning in children.”
Dos & Don’ts of Decorating
Some holiday decorations may be dangerous. Carefully hang glass bulbs and light bulbs high on the tree to prevent accidents.
Toys and Tots
Toy related injuries peak during the holidays. Parents should carefully review the toys on their child’s wish-list and consider the responsibility level of the child.
Decking the Halls with Alcohol?
In addition to designating a driver, Cantrell pointed out that alcohol poisoning – though common in children throughout the year – increases during the holidays. “Children are very sensitive to alcohol, especially to its ability to lower blood sugar.”
If an ingestion of a questionable product occurs or you have questions about the potential toxicity of anything in your home, call the California Poison Control System, San Diego Division, at UC San Diego Medical Center, toll free at 1-800-222-1222. The Poison Control System offers a 24-hour-a-day information service on the toxicology, clinical signs and symptoms, assessment and treatment of exposures to toxic substances.
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