Thursday, December 7, 2017

The holiday season is known for traditions, family gatherings and delicious, but often times, unhealthy foods. While time with family should always be enjoyed, it is important to remember that many diseases are avoidable with proper diet and exercise. Two of these – cardiovascular disease and diabetes – continue to be chronic health conditions in America. The holidays don’t change that reality for many people suffering from these conditions.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. In fact, more than 630,000 Americans died of heart disease in 2015, according to the CDC. However, cardiovascular diseases are non-communicable, meaning that they are, by definition, non-infectious and non-transmissible among people. The key risks for heart disease include obesity, poor diet, smoking and alcohol use.

Another non-communicable but life-altering chronic disease is diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 9 percent of the country’s population has diabetes, and it is the seventh leading cause of death in America. Type 2 diabetes can be a result of unhealthy eating habits, and with that in mind, it is critical to maintain a watchful eye on one’s diet.

This holiday season, remind your friends and family to make healthy lifestyle choices. Better yet, start your New Year’s resolutions early, and commit to at least one positive change. Here are some easy, helpful tips on how to stay healthy:

  • Stay active and exercise with your family. Play family football, go hiking, or simply go on a long walk with your dog.
  • Stick with lean meats. With poultry, eat the light-colored meat instead of dark and take the skin off to avoid more fat.
  • Eat in moderation. Overeating is common around the holidays, so make sure you are keeping track of how much you eat.
  • Remember that alcohol has calories, too. Many calories already exist in alcohol, but festive holiday drinks are especially loaded with extra sugars.

Instead of being anxious or stressed around food this holiday season, use these tips as a guide to live a healthier, more productive lifestyle this holiday season. It doesn’t mean you need to go without indulging, but remember, health is all year round!

If you or someone you love struggles with affordable access to medicines, there are resources available that may be able to help. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) helps connect patients with patient assistance programs that provide free or nearly free prescription medicines. For more information, visit www.pparx.org.