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As we begin a new year, this is the perfect time to gather with your family and work on or update your family health history. A family health history is a record of the medical conditions that have affected your family – from siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents – over several generations. But why should you work on a family health history? Here are 4 great reasons why you should:

It can determine your risk for certain diseases.

You can start early treatment for diseases that run in your family.

It can determine whether you should get certain genetic tests or not.

It can let you know if you are at risk of passing a disease onto your children.

‘Tis the season for eating… turkey, stuffing, pies, cookies, cakes, ham and all the sides! But how do you stay on your healthy eating track when it is so easy to get sidetracked with the holidays?

Experts weighed in (no pun intended) on this topic and have come up with these five healthy eating tips to help you keep those diet goals and still enjoy the delicious meals of the season!

  1. “Holiday-proof” your diet. How you ask? Try to eat as close to your normal eating times as possible, offer to bring a healthy treat to the meal, if you want to eat dessert maybe cut back on other carbohydrates during dinner and don’t skip meals to save up for dinner.
  2. “Outsmart the buffet.” Ways to do this include eat on a smaller plate and resist seconds, eat slowly so you feel fuller, start with vegetables so you fill up quicker and avoid (or limit) your alcohol.
  3. Add your favorites instead of eliminating them. If you only eat pumpkin pie once a year, then eat the pumpkin pie! Just make sure that you account for that in your diet plan/calorie count.
  4. Keep up with your exercising. While the holidays can be a busy time, make sure that you still try to fit your physical exercise in like you normally would. Being active can help you offset that extra eating that you will be doing and reduce your stress.
  5. Get your sleep. Because the holidays are such a busy time, you might be going out more and staying out later. Sleep loss may make it harder for you to stick to your diet and exercise plan. Getting your sleep will also prevent late night snacking.

Most of all, when you celebrate with the people that you care about, you will find that you are focusing on the fun not the food.

It’s the most germiest time of the year! Isn’t that how the song goes? Oh, wonderful, that’s right! Well, it may be the most wonderful time of the year if you and your family can remain healthy throughout the flu and holiday season.

Here are a few ways that you can make your health and safety a priority this year and keep you healthy well into 2022.

  • Wash your hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. Make sure that you are washing them for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Bundle up when you are headed outdoors in the cold. Wear light, warm layers, hat, gloves, and scarf. And waterproof boots, too!
  • Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. This is an all-year deal and not just for the holidays.
  • Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke whenever possible. If you are a smoker, consider making that early resolution to quit.
  • Get your yearly exams and screenings. Just because you are busy enjoying the season shouldn’t mean that you should put off those important health appointments.
  • Keep an eye on children. Keep hazardous or potentially hazardous items, foods, drinks, and objects away from children. Protect them from potential accidents.
  • Practice fire safety and know your family plan. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so be prepared in the event of an emergency.
  • Prepare food safely. Wash hands, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to the proper temperature and refrigerate foods after eating.

For several years now, we have seen a “role-reversal” where many adults are finding themselves in the role of caregiver for their aging parents and/or siblings. Oftentimes caregivers are so busy caring for others that they forget to care for themselves or their immediate families.

Experts refer to this condition as “caregiver burnout.” The symptoms of caregiver burnout mirror the symptoms of depression and stress, but they may also include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy.
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both.
  • Getting sick more often.
  • Using alcohol or sleep medication too often.
  • Feeling blue, cranky, or hopeless.

But what causes caregiver burnout? Besides neglecting themselves, burnout can also be caused by:

  • Role confusion – if you have been a caregiver for a long time, you can forget how to be a parent, spouse, or friend.
  • Lack of control – you may feel like you lack the skills, money, or resources that your loved one needs.
  • Unreasonable demands – you may take on too much, mainly because you are the taking on the task alone.
  • Unrealistic expectations – you may expect your care to have a positive effect on your loved one, when in fact it might not.

While caregiver burnout is the harsh reality for so many, all is not lost. You can reverse the burnout you feel simply by knowing your limits, asking for help, setting realistic goals, and most importantly taking time for yourself.

  • Cranberries contain high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. They also include only 45 calories per cup.
  • Cranberry's juice can be used for the prevention of urinary tract infections and bacterial adhesion in the stomach.
  • The same bacteria preventing ability of the cranberry juice can avert the formation of plaque, which leads to fewer cavities. 

 

Health benefits of cranberries

 Recipe: Easy Cranberry Bread 

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon, rind of
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 3/4 cups cranberries, chopped 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add egg, finely grated orange peel, lemon peel, and orange juice all at once; carefully stir until the mixture is evenly moist. Fold in cranberries. Spoon and spread evenly into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. 

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Optional: Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice. 

Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse them. Pick out and discard any damaged or bruised cranberries. Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Add the cranberries to the pot and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst.  Once the cranberries have burst you can leave the cranberry sauce as is or dress it up with other ingredients. We like to mix in a half a cup of chopped pecans with a few strips of orange zest. Some people like adding raisins or currants, or even blueberries for added sweetness. You can also add holiday spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice. Remove the pot from heat. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator.