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Health Tip Recap #6 - November 2023


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With the holiday season already here and more celebrations still to go, it’s a fantastic time to remind ourselves about what matters most: our wellbeing and the wellbeing of those we cherish. While these last months of the year can be a trying period, November 2023’s Wednesday Health Tips shine some extra and positive light on dental care, cooking practices, healthier eating, and self-care.

 

Tending to your Teeth

Some of us may have given in to our candy cravings this Halloween. But there are still multiple methods to keep prioritizing oral health and help ensure our dentist remains impressed.

Brushing 

  • Gently brush your teeth on all sides with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, if not sooner. 
  • Use small circular motions and short back-and-forth strokes. 
  • Brush carefully and gently along your gum line. 
  • Lightly brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper to help keep your mouth clean. 


Floss & Rinse 

  • Clean between your teeth with dental floss, pre-threaded floss, a water flosser, or a similar product. This removes plaque and leftover food that a toothbrush can't reach. 
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly after flossing. 


Dental Visits 
Visit your dentist at least once a year for a checkup.

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Healthier Eating for the Holidays

If the calendar is to be believed, then the holidays are truly here. That means many opportunities to enjoy meals with loved ones and stay healthy! These are adapted from a list by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  

1. Control What You Can 
You may not be able to decide what food is served, but you can try to meet certain challenges: 

  • Try eating close to your usual times. If your meal is served later than normal, eat a small snack at your usual mealtimes and eat a little less when dinner is served. 
  • If you’re invited to a party, ask to bring a healthy dish. 
  • Eat slowly to promote better digestion. 


2. Beat the Buffet 

  • When you encounter a spread of delectable holiday food, you can still make healthy eating choices: 
  • Have a small plate of the foods you like best and then move away from the buffet table. 
  • Start with vegetables to take the edge off your appetite. 
  • Eat slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full. 
  • Avoid or limit beverages that are high in sugar. 


3. Don’t Forget Favorites 
No food is on the naughty list. Choose the dishes you really love and can’t get any other time of year. Slow down and savor a small serving, and make sure to count it in your meal plan, but also consider eating in moderation and substitutes for certain ingredients, if possible. 


4. Remain Active 

You have a lot on your plate this time of year, which means physical activity is sometimes neglected. But being active is your secret holiday power; it can help make up for eating more than usual. Get moving with friends and family, such as taking a walk after a holiday meal or going for a bike ride in the morning. 


5. Keep Your Sleep 

Going out more and staying out later often results in having less sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to manage your mental and physical health, and when you’re sleep deprived, you tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food. Strive for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. 

Healthy Cooking Practices, Part 1

The holidays are a time to show we care, through cooking. This tip focuses on a few ways to help make our meals better for ourselves and those that matter greatly to us.

Measure accurately

Consuming the correct serving size of meat and carbohydrates like pasta and rice keeps calorie levels down. Additionally, make sure to accurately measure ingredients like oil, salt, and other items used for cooking or baking. 
  
Minimize added sugars and sweeteners 

Sugar adds empty calories. That means it may increase your weight without giving you any useful nutrients. 
  
Avoid margarine or cream-based sauces on veggies 
Fat and cream-based sauces will ramp up the calorie count of your vegetables. For example, ranch dressing on your salad can make your healthy greens less nutritive. 
  
Try low-fat cooking by boiling or steaming 

If you boil or steam food, you avoid the chemicals created by high temperatures and cut out extra fat, which can help you stay at a healthy weight. 
  
Minimize saturated fats 
If you reduce the amount of cheese and butter in a meal, you may lessen the amount of saturated fats it has. Consider replacing half of the butter you typically use with olive oil, or including super-fine grated cheese, which makes less seem like more. 

Healthy Cooking Practices, Part 2

In the sequel to the previous Health Tip post, we examine more methods for creating dishes that are as delicious as they are nutritious. 


Toss in fruits and veggies 
If you use more fresh fruits and vegetables, which can even include frozen produce, you can increase the amount of healthy nutrients in your meals. Antioxidants and phytochemicals in plants may help your body combat diseases. Canned vegetables should be purchased carefully; opt for the low-sodium and no-added-sugar varieties. 
  
Enjoy olive or canola oil 
Research has shown that the use of olive oil may be linked to a lower risk for obesity and cardiovascular problems. If you prefer it, canola oil can be a good second choice. Canola oil does contain some healthy omega-3 oils and has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. It may be a healthier alternative to corn, soy or vegetable oil and animal fats like butter. 
  
Substitute refined grains with whole grains 
Whole grains like brown rice instead of white rice contain more fiber. Your body also digests it more slowly, which can make you feel fuller longer. Whole grains are an important part of a balanced diet and eating them has been linked to reducing the risk of diseases like heart disease. 
  
Add herbs and other ingredients 
Herbs, spices, onions, garlic, and citrus are ingredients that give your food additional flavor without any of the downsides of salt and sugar. Many of them also come with extra antioxidants, which may help your body fight disease. 

Self-Care for the Holidays

The holidays are about caring for others, but tending to yourself is important as well. Here is a list of techniques to help support your well-being throughout the season.

  • Build a budget and keep to it. Consider creative methods to stretch your budget. This might include holding a gift exchange instead of buying gifts for everyone on your list, making handmade gifts, or looking at alternative ways to give this season.
  • Give yourself permission to say “no”. Rather than going overboard to meet the demands of the holidays, take care of yourself by assessing what you can realistically do and saying “no” to commitments outside that threshold.
  • Find support if you need it. The holidays can be an emotionally charged time. It may also be challenging if you are balancing personal, relationship, or family-related issues. Know you are not alone and that it is okay to ask for help. 
  • Enjoy holiday treats in moderation. Consider having a light, healthy snack before visiting holiday parties to avoid over-indulging. 
  • Stick to your exercise routine. Exercise can counteract stress. It may also help you manage all those readily available holiday treats and large meals.   
  • Seize moments of solitude. Whether you are arranging plants in your garden or meditating in a recreational room, having a few minutes of solitary silence here and there can take you far. 

  

As with most things in life, the intentions can wield much more weight than the ultimate actions. But we have been known to conquer the unconquerable before and making even small health-related adjustments can lead to larger changes later. If you found this recap enthralling, feel free to dive into our other Health Tip Wednesday recaps with Health Tip Recap #4 - September 2023 and Health Tip Recap #5 - October 2023.



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