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Are the baby blues just for moms?

Newborns are cute, cuddly and warm. But postpartum depression affects roughly 14% of women, according to the American Psychological Association.

But what about postpartum depression in men?

“If a mother experiences postpartum depression, this is a good indicator that the father may experience postpartum depression as well,” says Dr. Deborah Fischer, psychologist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Oshkosh Wis.

In fact, if a mother begins feeling the effects of PPD, a study showed 24% to 50% of fathers will experience it as well. A study showed around 10% of men suffer from PPD.

Several indicators predict the likelihood of men experiencing PPD, including history of depression, their partner’s history of depression and the health of the couple’s relationship.

“This is a highly underdiscussed and undertreated health concern among fathers,” Dr. Fischer says. “Especially since, not only does postpartum depression in mothers affect the relationship between mother and child, but if the mother and father both experience PPD, it could injure partner relationships, infant bonding and child development, extending well into adulthood.”

In the past, “when men experienced depression within the first year of a child’s life, it was chalked up to just depression, versus when women experienced the same sort of depression, it was classified as postpartum depression,” says Dr. Fischer.

Increasing awareness and parent education, as well as expelling the stigma, are the first steps in preventing paternal PPD. When it comes to treating paternal PPD, fathers might find individual or couples’ therapy to be helpful.

“If you’re a new father and you begin feeling an extended period of frustration, deterioration of your lifestyle, feeling unskilled in infant care, or anything similar,” Dr. Fischer says, “these are signs you should seek help from a medical provider immediately. And don’t be afraid or ashamed. We understand what you’re going through and we are here to help.”

The post Are the baby blues just for moms? appeared first on health enews.

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What you need to know about varicose veins

Varicose veins can show up in teenagers, and they become much more common as you age. By age 40, about 40% of women have them. By age 70, 70% will. And about 40% of men will eventually have them, too.

But who gets varicose veins, are they dangerous and how do you treat them? Dr. Peter Bartzen, a surgeon with Aurora Health Care, answers your questions.

Q: What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are lumpy, red or blue swollen veins close to the surface of the skin. They range in size from less than a millimeter to more than a centimeter in diameter.

The smaller ones are sometimes called spider veins. They usually aren’t a serious health problem. But they can itch, burn and feel uncomfortable.

Bigger varicose veins sometimes cause the skin to bulge. You might see them on the backs of your calves or other places on the legs, but they can also show up in other places.

Q: Why do people get varicose veins?

Veins have tiny valves that keep the blood from flowing the wrong way. When the valves get weak, blood can collect in the veins. This can also happen if the vein walls are weak. The more blood that collects, the bigger the varicose veins you’ll have.

Along with aging, genetics plays a big role in who gets varicose veins. Generally, people inherit the tendency to have weak valves and varicose veins. Women have more of them than men partly because pregnancy and other hormonal changes can put pressure on the veins. People who are overweight or inactive are more likely to develop them.

Q: Can you prevent varicose veins?

There’s not a lot you can do to prevent varicose veins. Still, some lifestyle changes might help.

Most importantly, keep your weight down and your activity level up. Appropriate weight keeps excess pressure off your veins, while activity improves circulation.

Recommendations that help some people:

  • Wear clothing that isn’t tight and doesn’t create pressure around the waist, pelvis and legs.
  • Try elastic support stockings (or prescription compression stockings).
  • Avoid standing or sitting for a long time. Move around every half hour or so.
  • Elevate your legs above the level of your heart for 15 minutes twice a day to give your veins a break from gravity.
  • Sit with your legs apart, not crossed.
  • Eat a high-fiber, low-sodium diet to avoid constipation, swelling and pressure on the veins.

Q: I don’t see any varicose veins, but my legs hurt: Could it be varicose veins?

Some varicose veins can’t be seen. You might have them if your legs ache or throb when you’ve been standing or sitting for a while. Cramps or swelling can also be signs. Legs that feel heavy or are restless might have varicose veins. Skin darkening or an itchy, irritated rash are other symptoms. Other problems could cause any of those symptoms, so if you have concerns, have them checked out by your health care professional.

Q: Are varicose veins dangerous?

While most varicose veins are just a cosmetic problem, some varicose veins cause health problems ranging from sores to blood clots. It’s important to note that while they can be painful, they aren’t dangerous clots, like those in deep veins.

Don’t hesitate to consult your health care professional about even minor problems with varicose veins – or just because you don’t like the way they look.

Make sure you see the doctor if you have:

  • A vein that’s swollen, painful, tender or warm
  • Sores or rashes near the ankle
  • Thickening and skin color change on the calf or ankle
  • Bleeding
  • Leg problems that get in the way of your daily activities.

Q: What treatments are available for varicose veins?

Varicose veins are easy to treat. There are different treatments for different sizes of veins. All are done in the doctor’s office or as outpatient procedures.

A vascular surgeon (vein doctor) might:

  • Inject a chemical into the vein to seal off the walls (sclerotherapy),
  • Use laser or radio waves to block a vein, or
  • Tie off and remove veins through incisions (microphlebectomy -or removal through tiny incisions).

Most insurance companies cover varicose vein treatments. Talk to your doctor to find an approach that works for you.

Dr. Peter J. Bartzen is a General & Vascular Surgeon at Aurora Health Center in Racine, WI.

The post What you need to know about varicose veins appeared first on health enews.

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Why more men might schedule vasectomies during March Madness

College basketball’s Final Four games will be played this weekend, signaling the end of the annual March Madness craze that grips sports fans across the U.S.

But there’s a different type of madness this time of year.

Men get more vasectomies at this time of year than almost any other time, according to a study published in the journal Urology last year.

One possible reason: You have yourself a binge-watching staycation watching basketball while you recover.

“Often, men and their partners have considered a permanent form of contraception for some time,” says Dr. David Rebuck, a urologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “And March Madness, plus the extensive TV watching, is an opportunity for them to be distracted by the sport during their recovery.”

A vasectomy is an outpatient procedure that takes about 10-20 minutes from start to finish and is performed under a local anesthetic. The first two to three days are critical for a successful recovery, and patients are advised to stay off their feet for 48-72 hours and to avoid all sexual activity and heavy lifting for two weeks.

Routine follow-up appointments are scheduled for one to two weeks after the procedure to check the patient’s incision, which tends to be quite small and well-healed by then.

“Most importantly, during follow ups, I like to remind my patients to continue using a reliable form of contraception until test results show it is safe to discontinue using them”, says Dr. Rebuck. “Approximately 500,000 vasectomies are performed each year in the U.S. and it should be considered by any man whose family is complete.”

The post Why more men might schedule vasectomies during March Madness appeared first on health enews.

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5 STD myths busted

Chlamydia. Gonorrhea. Herpes. HIV. The thought of these sexually transmitted infections and diseases can be scary.

But widespread myths about these dangerous infections often lead to misinformation and failure to be tested.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that testing rates for sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs/STIs) in high-risk populations such as young adults ages 15-25 are significantly lower than recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With countless myths about the prevalence, symptoms and long-term effects of these infections, such individuals need to know the truth surrounding these risks in order to best protect themselves and their partners.

Dr. Rannveig Maria Middleton, an OB/GYN with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., breaks down five of the most common STD myths to help remind sexually active individuals of the importance of regular, thorough testing and follow-up treatment, if needed.

1. Myth:  STDs and STIs are rare. The taboo nature of STDs often prevents people from discussing them. People dismiss the risk of contracting an STD and getting tested because they assume STDs are relatively uncommon. In fact, these infections are much more common than you may think.

“Our office probably calls someone every week with a new diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection,” Dr. Middleton says.

One in two sexually active individuals will contract an STD by age 25, and over 20 million new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2. Myth:  You can’t catch an STD if you use birth control. Not all birth control is created equal. And contrary to popular belief, many do not protect you from the spread of STDs. While options such as the pill or an IUD prevent pregnancy, these precautions will not prevent STD contraction, as these infections are spread through physical contact and fluid exchange.

Condoms and dental dams are recommended as the most effective form of protection; however, be aware that these barriers still do not guarantee safety.

“Condoms are effective at preventing HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia infections, but don’t always work against genital warts or herpes,” Dr. Middleton says. “Those occur more on the vulva and the base of the penis, where the condom doesn’t prevent contact.”

3. Myth:  Two condoms are better than one. While this may seem like the best way to protect yourself from both unwanted pregnancy and the spread of disease, don’t be fooled. Using more than one condom actually increases the risk of the condom(s) breaking or tearing from the increased amount of friction, in turn amplifying the risk of being exposed to potential infection.

4. Myth: Chlorine and heat in a hot tub or pool kill STD germs, so you can’t get infected. Neither chlorine nor hot water are capable of killing the bacteria or viruses that cause STDs. Chlorine does break down latex, however, meaning that activity in these locations may increase risk due to a broken condom.

5. Myth:  If you or your partner had an STD, it would be obvious. “Most women I diagnose with infections do not have any symptoms,” Dr. Middleton says. Many STDs such as herpes or the human papilloma virus (HPV) can lie dormant for weeks or months before a flare-up. Others, such as chlamydia, can develop slowly with little or even no symptoms. Although symptoms may not be clear, individuals can still transmit the infection to others and may suffer various complications including infertility if not treated in a timely manner.

The post 5 STD myths busted appeared first on health enews.

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What you need to know about varicose veins

Varicose veins can show up in teenagers. And they become much more common as you age. By age 40, about 40 percent of women have them. By age 70, 70 percent will! And about 40 percent of men will eventually have them, too.

But who gets varicose veins, are they dangerous and how do you treat them? Dr. Peter Bartzen, a surgeon with Aurora Health Care answers your questions.

Q: What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are lumpy, red or blue swollen veins close to the surface of the skin. They range in size from less than a millimeter to more than a centimeter in diameter.

The smaller ones are sometimes called spider veins. They usually aren’t a serious health problem. But they can itch, burn and feel uncomfortable.

Bigger varicose veins sometimes cause the skin to bulge. You might see them on the backs of your calves or other places on the legs. But they can also show up in other places.

Q: Why do people get varicose veins?

Veins have tiny valves that keep the blood from flowing the wrong way. When the valves get weak, blood can collect in the veins. This can also happen if the vein walls are weak. The more blood that collects, the bigger the varicose veins you’ll have.

Along with aging, genetics plays a big role in who gets varicose veins. Generally, people inherit the tendency to have weak valves and varicose veins. Women have more of them than men partly because of pregnancy and other hormonal changes can put pressure on the veins. People who are overweight or inactive are more likely to develop them.

Q: Can you prevent varicose veins?

There’s not a lot you can do to prevent varicose veins. Still, some lifestyle changes might help some people.

Most important, keep your weight down and your activity level up. Appropriate weight keeps excess pressure off your veins, while activity improves circulation.

Recommendations that help some people:

  • Wear clothing that’s not tight and doesn’t create pressure around the waist, pelvis and legs.
  • Try elastic support stockings (or prescription compression stockings).
  • Avoid standing or sitting for a long time. Move around every half hour or so.
  • Elevate your legs above the level of your heart for 15 minutes twice a day to give your veins a break from gravity.
  • Sit with your legs apart, not crossed.
  • Eat a high-fiber, low sodium diet to avoid constipation, swelling and pressure on the veins.

Q: I don’t see any varicose veins but my legs hurt: Could it be varicose veins?

Some varicose veins can’t be seen. You might have them if your legs ache or throb when you’ve been standing or sitting for a while. Cramps or swelling can also be signs. Legs that feel heavy or are restless might have varicose veins. Skin darkening or an itchy, irritated rash are other symptoms. Other problems could cause any of those symptoms, so if you have concerns have them checked out by your health care professional.

Q: Are varicose veins dangerous?

While most varicose veins are just a cosmetic problem, some varicose veins cause health problems ranging from sores to blood clots. It’s important to note, that while they can be painful, they aren’t dangerous clots, like those in deep veins.

Don’t hesitate to consult your health care professional about even minor problems with varicose veins – or just because you don’t like the way they look.

Make sure you see the doctor if you have:

  • A vein that’s swollen, painful, tender or warm.
  • Sores or rashes near the ankle.
  • Thickening and skin color change on the calf or ankle.
  • Bleeding.
  • Leg problems that get in the way of your daily activities.

Q: What treatments are available for varicose veins?

Varicose veins are easy to treat. There are different treatments for different sizes of veins. All are done in the doctor’s office or as outpatient procedures.

A vascular surgeon (vein doctor) might:

  • Inject a chemical into the vein to seal off the walls (sclerotherapy),
  • Use laser or radio waves to block a vein, or
  • Tie off and remove veins through incisions (microphlebectomy -or removal through tiny incisions).

Most insurance companies cover varicose vein treatments. Talk to your doctor to find an approach that works for you.

Final thoughts

Be aware that claims made by some advertisers are a little excessive. No one can promise completely painless or permanent treatments. Sometimes varicose veins return even after the best treatment and lifestyle changes.

Dr. Peter J. Bartzen is a General & Vascular Surgeon at Aurora Health Center in Racine, WI.

The post What you need to know about varicose veins appeared first on health enews.

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Approximately 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with this cancer

Did you know that aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men in the U.S.?

In fact, in 2019, there will likely be over 174,000 new cases and over 31,000 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

So what should you know about your risk, potential symptoms and when to get screened?

“The most common risk factors are things you can’t control,” says Dr. Mark Brandt, the Division Director of Urology at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “Those that have a higher risk generally have a family history, are African American and are older, as your risk increases with age.”

Still, even if you are at higher risk for developing prostate cancer, there are tests that can help, says Dr. Brandt.

“Some tests that are commonly done at your urologist’s office are a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test, a rectal exam, a PHI (Prostate Health Index), a 4KScore or a prostate MRI. Dependent on the results of these tests, your doctor may order a biopsy,” he explains.

Prostate cancer can only be cured in the early stages before symptoms develop, which is one of the reasons this type of cancer is so frightening,” he explains. “This is also why these tests are so important. When caught early, prostate cancer is curable.”

So when should a man see a doctor?

The American Cancer Society‎ recommends prostate cancer screening be offered to men starting at age 50 and earlier for those with risk factors, such as first-degree relatives with prostate cancer or men who are African American.

While in the early stages, prostate cancer usually doesn’t cause symptoms. If left undetected, advanced cases can lead to difficulty voiding or blood in the urine. Although both of these complaints are usually related to other conditions, a visit to the urologist is the best first step to determine the right course of action and if further testing is necessary.

Find out your estimated risk of developing prostate cancer with our Prostate Health Assessment.

The post Approximately 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with this cancer appeared first on My Site.

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Balanced Diet
Tired during the day? Read this

Do you often reach for an afternoon cup of coffee to keep from yawning during meetings at work? Feel like you’re tired every day despite getting enough rest?

You’re not alone.

A study found that men who eat fatty foods are more prone to daytime drowsiness. And among those who reported the highest-fat diets, nearly half said they are habitually tired throughout the average day.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide studied the diets and lifestyles of 784 men between the ages of 35 and 80, controlling things like weight, exercise levels, chronic health issues and smoking and drinking habits. Participants also underwent sleep studies to rule out sleep apnea, which can cause sleeplessness and exhaustion.

It’s not known exactly how fatty foods cause drowsiness, but previous research has suggested fatty foods can slow metabolism. Researchers also suggested what time people eat may have an effect.

“A good diet and quality sleep are central to our health and wellness. Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world, they are often sacrificed,” says Dr. Varsha Bhan, an internal medicine physician on staff at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “It’s easy to over-rely on fast food while juggling multiple commitments to work and family, and many of us fall prey to high-fat ‘comfort foods’ in times of stress, believing they make us feel better in the short term. But are the potential long-term effects worth it?”

Information on participants’ diets was collected through a national diet questionnaire.

Although the study controlled for sleep disorders like sleep apnea, participants who ate the most fatty foods were found to be at increased risk of developing the disorder. Today, nearly 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, which is often associated with people who are overweight, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

“Sleep plays a critical role in our brain function, so skipping out on needed sleep can make it harder to function in your job or at school and can put you at higher risk of accidental injury,” says Dr. Bhan. “When you combine that with risks of a poor diet, such as high cholesterol and heart disease, it can be a recipe for disaster.”

Dr. Bhan offers three simple ways for getting your diet back on track:

  • Plan meals ahead so you are less tempted to stop for a quick fix at a fast food restaurant.
  • Keep healthy fingers foods like fruits and vegetables available, so when you feel the urge to snack, you have something easy and healthy to reach for.
  • Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. It can help you feel full and satiated.

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No stuffing
Your guide to surviving the holiday eating frenzy

Here are some alarming facts to chew on during the holiday season.

According to the Calorie Control Council, a typical American Thanksgiving dinner contains a startling 3,000 calories. And that doesn’t include the mindless snacking and drinking that can pack on an additional 1,500 calories and nearly 230 grams of fat. That’s like consuming two days’ worth of food (including the amount of fat in three sticks of butter) in one sitting.

But don’t think you’re out of the clear with Thanksgiving long past us, because it’s not the only holiday with a nutritional landmine threatening our healthy eating plans. Beginning with Halloween and ending with champagne on New Year’s Eve, the season can wreak havoc on our efforts to maintain a normal weight.

So what is a holiday food lover to do?

Dr. Jennifer DeBruler, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, who is also board-certified in obesity medicine, says there is hope for those determined not to be consumed by the holiday eating frenzy. She says it’s critical to have a strategy.

Here are Dr. DeBruler’s six best tips for navigating the season. 

Have an eating plan
Mindless grazing at parties can have you consuming 500-1,000 more calories than intended. Decide ahead of time how much you are going to eat and stick to the plan.

Don’t diet for weight loss
The holidays are an extremely hard time to try and lose weight. Instead, your goal should be to just maintain your current weight until the season passes and focus on weight loss in the coming year.

Portions, portions, portions
Rather than eating until you are stuffed, eat until you aren’t hungry. If you find that you’re still hungry 15-20 minutes after eating, then go for one last small helping. But give yourself some time to become satiated before eating more.

The pitfalls of alcohol
It’s important to remember that alcohol can be deceptively high in calories. The other problem is that when you drink too much, you tend to get hungrier and may end up eating much more than you planned.

Consider food swapping
As tempting as grandma’s butter-laden mashed potatoes are, consider swapping those out for a bigger helping of healthy vegetables. Instead of a big hunk of pecan pie, bring along some fresh strawberries with a tiny touch of whipped cream as a healthier option.

Get moving
In order to better metabolize your food intake, try and get some light exercise in before your meal. Take the family for few quick laps around the block before sitting down for the feast. The same holds true for after the meal. A short walk will help digestion and keep you from nodding off in front of the TV.

Check out Dr. DeBruler’s video about surviving the holiday eating frenzy here.

Take our Healthy Weight Assessment to learn whether you’re within an ideal range and how the number may be affecting your life and future.

The post Your guide to surviving the holiday eating frenzy appeared first on .

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Kick it
4 ways to reduce seasonal salt intake

For many people living with high blood pressure, heart failure and other chronic conditions, managing sodium in the foods they eat is a year-round exercise.

But the holidays can pose a daunting challenge to those trying to keep their salt intake to a healthy minimum.

December is filled with great foods and large meals, many of which, says Tarah Hoffmann, a registered dietitian at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill., contain large amounts of salt.

“One of the reasons we love the holiday is the food, and one of the reasons we love the food so much is that a lot of it is packed with flavor-enhancing salt,” Hoffmann says. “Many holiday staples such as ham, turkey, many sides and baked goods are very high in sodium, even when they don’t taste salty.”

Hoffman offers a few tips to help reduce some of the salt present in a typical holiday meal:

    1. Plan ahead with your ham – Many people think there’s nothing better than a holiday ham on the table. But, ham is definitely on the watch list for those on a low-sodium diet. To lower the salt content in the ham at your table, Hoffmann suggests soaking the ham overnight in cold water before cooking. This soaking draws salt out of the ham, and frequent water changes can reduce sodium significantly, she says. But, Hoffmann warns that even reduced-sodium ham can still feature relatively high salt levels that should be avoided by those who are under tight restrictions.
    2. Go homemade with your sides – The sodium content in side dishes such as stuffing, mashed potatoes and many casseroles is most easily controlled by making them yourself from scratch, Hoffman says. Potatoes and most bread used for stuffing aren’t naturally salty, but traditional holiday preparations of these ingredients can pump up sodium content to risky levels. And pre-packaged, pre-prepared versions of these sides can pack a very unhealthy sodium punch. Hoffman recommends cooking with unsalted butter to avoid any “hidden” sodium, as well as replacing some salt with parsley and other herbs, or finding a tasty salt substitute.
    3. Study those spices – Many cooks spruce up their dishes with spice blends, but Hoffmann points out that salt is often a significant ingredient of many combination spices, including the “poultry seasoning” cooks use to dress up their holiday birds. She recommends checking labels carefully before using these products to see how much salt they’re adding. And, she adds, cooks can also substitute onion, garlic and other herbs for salt in many recipes.
    4. Guarded with gravy – Hoffman says that many pre-made gravy varieties now have low-sodium versions that you can use to cut some salt. But, she says that if you do make your own gravy, make sure to use low-salt broth or soup as the base. She adds that herbs and spices can come to the rescue again in gravy, with pepper, garlic, onion and chives being some of her personal choices.

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No stuffing
6 tips to survive the holiday eating frenzy

Here are some alarming facts to chew on during the holiday season.

According to the Calorie Control Council, a typical American Thanksgiving dinner contains a startling 3,000 calories. And that doesn’t include the mindless snacking and drinking that can pack on an additional 1,500 calories and nearly 230 grams of fat. That’s like consuming two days’ worth of food (including the amount of fat in three sticks of butter) in one sitting.

And Thanksgiving isn’t the only nutritional landmine threatening our healthy eating plans. Beginning with Halloween and ending with champagne on New Year’s Eve, the season can wreak havoc on our efforts to maintain a normal weight.

So what is a holiday food lover to do?

Dr. Jennifer DeBruler, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, who is also board-certified in obesity medicine, says there is hope for those determined not to be consumed by the holiday eating frenzy. She says it’s critical to have a strategy.

Here are Dr. DeBruler’s six best tips for navigating the season. 

Have an eating plan
Mindless grazing at parties can have you consuming 500-1,000 more calories than intended. Decide ahead of time how much you are going to eat and stick to the plan.

Don’t diet for weight loss
The holidays are an extremely hard time to try and lose weight. Instead, your goal should be to just maintain your current weight until the season passes and focus on weight loss in the coming year.

Portions, portions, portions
Rather than eating until you are stuffed, eat until you aren’t hungry. If you find that you’re still hungry 15-20 minutes after eating, then go for one last small helping. But give yourself some time to become satiated before eating more.

The pitfalls of alcohol
It’s important to remember that alcohol can be deceptively high in calories. The other problem is that when you drink too much, you tend to get hungrier and may end up eating much more than you planned.

Consider food swapping
As tempting as grandma’s butter-laden mashed potatoes are, consider swapping those out for a bigger helping of healthy vegetables. Instead of a big hunk of pecan pie, bring along some fresh strawberries with a tiny touch of whipped cream as a healthier option.

Get moving
In order to better metabolize your food intake, try and get some light exercise in before your meal. Take the family for few quick laps around the block before sitting down for the feast. The same holds true for after the meal. A short walk will help digestion and keep you from nodding off in front of the TV.

Check out Dr. DeBruler’s video about surviving the holiday eating frenzy here.

Take our Healthy Weight Assessment to learn whether you’re within an ideal range and how the number may be affecting your life and future.

The post 6 tips to survive the holiday eating frenzy appeared first on .

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