Health Features

Game Plan for 2017

Sometime between the excesses of Thanksgiving and the stresses of holiday shopping and partying, we realize it’s time to rein in the eating and drinking because Jan. 1 is right around the corner. This is easier to do when you realize just how bad too much of anything can be for you. Over-indulging not only makes you look and feel bad, it impacts long-term health as well. So why not embrace moderation now?

holiday eating
No one wants a joyless holiday, and that’s what you’d have without the special foods and treats of the season. But as anyone who’s waddled to the couch to assume a prone position after Thanksgiving dinner knows, overdoing it is anything but joyful.

treats, not total abandon
“The holidays are special, and that means special foods,” says Connie Diekman, registered dietitian and director of university nutrition at Washington University. “We often approach the holidays with dread thinking we are going to eat too much and gain too much weight. Instead, turn to positive thinking—don’t force yourself into deprivation.”

But, as they say at the spa: be mindful. “These are the holidays, have a good time!” agrees Teresa Syed of OneLife Wellness and Weight Loss Clinic. “But do it with intention. Eat things you normally would not allow yourself to eat, but eat moderately.”

Diekman adds: “There is no question that the challenges to managing our weight are higher at this time of year. We have lots of holiday meals and parties with friends and in the office.”

health-illustrationhave a plan
The rst step is planning for the upcoming feasts. “Think about approaching them with appropriate food choices and portions,” Diekman says. “Keep some level of physical activity going through the holidays. You may not be going to the gym as often as usual, but just running or walking outside is a good stress reliever.”

And don’t put it off; there is nothing special about Jan. 1. “Instead of making it a New Year’s resolution, start today on laying out a strategy for a healthy lifestyle,” Syed suggests. “All through your life you should be mindful of what you put in your mouth; make good choices about eating healthy.”

game day tips
Approach the challenges of the buffet table with a good defense. “Drink a glass of ice-cold water before every meal and a glass with every meal. Water keeps you feeling full,” Syed says. “If you are going to drink alcohol, have a glass of water between each drink. It will help dilute the effects.”

Also, Diekman suggests, “Do smaller meals throughout the day with lots of fruits and vegetables so they fill you up.” When meal time arrives, “take appropriate portions of the foods you can’t live without but more of the veggies and whole grains.”

Syed says to design a strategy before you get there. “The table will be full of wonderful things,” she cautions. “Mind your calories by choosing the foods that are most important to you.” Diekman also recommends dividing leftovers into meals for the freezer. “That way, you can stretch those calories out,” she explains. “Leftover cakes, cookies and candies can be shared with friends, but you also can freeze them. They will give you something to look forward to on a cold, miserable day in January.”

mixed messages
Our worst enemy might just be the ‘don’t waste food’ taboo. “We don’t want to waste food, but if you eat it, you are not exactly helping starving people,” Diekman points out. Syed says, “Most of us at some point think about having a detox period where we eat clean. You can do that in a lot of different ways. Reframe your relationship with foods, focusing on a healthy lifestyle that is about feeling good and being good to your body, not about ‘dieting to be skinny.’ If you make good choices over time, those will result in a healthier weight.”

alcohol & cancer
We all know too much imbibing can be embarrassing and put the pounds on. But what we might not know is how closely linked alcohol consumption is to disease, especially the big ‘C.’

cancer connection
“Alcohol absolutely increases the risks for cancer, especially breast cancer in women and colorectal cancer in men and women,” says Dr Yikyung Park, research scientist at Siteman Cancer Center. “Any level of alcohol consumption will be dangerous. Even one drink a day is going to increase your cancer risk eight to 10 percent.”

Alcohol consumption is particularly risky for women because it elevates circulating estrogen levels—a factor in breast cancer. “Research has shown that if you have more than two or three drinks every day, it increases your risk of breast cancer by about 20 percent,” says Dr. Theresa Schwartz, SLUCare oncological surgeon.

“Alcohol consumption also increases the risks for cancers of the head and neck, liver and esophagus,” Park adds.

what the what?
“When alcohol is metabolized in the body, it creates acetaldehyde, which is toxic. It damages our DNA and is a potential carcinogen,” Park explains. “Alcohol metabolism also generates reactive oxygen species that damage the cellular DNA in the proteins and fats in the bodies so it increases our risk for cancer.”

Schwartz adds, “In theory, women are a bit more sensitive to the cancer risks of alcohol than men. Higher intakes of alcohol are associated with higher levels of circulating estrogens in the body. About 80 percent of the breast cancers we see are responsive to hormones, so having increased levels of circulating hormones increases the risk of getting breast cancer.”

Other factors are believed to exacerbate susceptibility to breast cancer. “If someone is drinking a lot, her overall nutrition generally is worse, and that tends to make her have more fatty tissue than muscle,” Schwartz says. “The more fatty tissue you have, the more estrogen you produce.”

happy without happy hour
“There is no safe limit,” Park says. “If you are not an alcohol drinker, do not start.”

Realistically, Park admits that happy hours and holidays are associated with favorite alcoholic beverages. “There are cocktails made without alcohol. If you do want to enjoy a drink, do it in moderation. That usually means one drink per day for women and two for men.”

The research on breast cancer does not call for abstinence from alcohol. “It would be great to recommend abstinence if I thought that was going to work,” Schwartz says. “The data tell us that averaging less than one drink per day doesn’t appear to increase the breast cancer risk—it should keep you at the same risk as the general population that doesn’t drink at all.”

And vices love company, Park adds. “When people drink, they also might have cigarettes,” she says. “That is a double-take, the two most toxic substances you can put in your body.”

winter procedures
Once all the partying is over, we start to think ahead to, well, what comes after the big chill. Even if you love winter, it’s nice to know fun and warmth will return in a few months. So will shorts and swimsuits.

hibernate & heal
The cold months are a great time to schedule cosmetic procedures that will make you feel be er in 2017. “Winter is an excellent time for almost any plastic surgery procedure since most people tend to stay indoors and wear more layers of clothing,” says plastic surgeon Dr. Michele Koo. “Many body and breast contouring procedures are perfect to perform in winter because the recovery period requires surgical garments that hide well under clothing. It also provides adequate time prior to swimsuit season to show off the new curves.”

Even nonsurgical procedures may work better in the darker months when tanning is not masking skin pigments and tiny capillaries, says Carol Anderson, certified aesthetic nurse specialist and owner of Nouveau MedSpa. “Also, you can have some swelling and pinkness in your skin for a few days, so you may want to hide out for what I call ‘social downtime.’”

Check below to understand cosmetic options best suited for wintertime.

photo rejuvenation
PROCESS: Uses near-infrared light and heat
BENEFITS: Eliminates sun damage and pigmentation, treats broken capillaries, tightens skin
COST: $300 to $500*

chemical peel
PROCESS: Uses a chemical solution to remove outer skin layers
BENEFITS: Improves appearance from effects of sun exposure, acne,
lines, wrinkles and pigmentation
DOWNTIME: 3 days to 2 weeks
COST: $632*

radio frequency skin tightening
PROCESS: Uses RF energy to heat tissues
BENEFITS: Stimulates collagen production to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and loose skin
DOWNTIME: 2 to 5 days
COST: $600 to $1,200*

tummy tuck
PROCESS: Surgical removal of excess fat and skin; restoration of weakened muscles
BENEFITS: Creates smoother and firmer abdominal profile
DOWNTIME: 2 to 4 weeks
COST: $5,493*

breast augmentation
PROCESS: Surgical placement of implants or fat transfers
BENEFITS: Enhances size, volume and shape of breasts
DOWNTIME: 3 days to office work and 2 to 4 weeks to strenuous work
COST: $3,708*

PROCESS: Surgical removal of excess fat deposits through small incisions
BENEFITS: Improves body contours and proportions
DOWNTIME: 4 days to 2 weeks
COST: $2,971*

laser skin resurfacing
PROCESS: Heats skin tissues
BENEFITS: Reduces wrinkles, scars and blemishes
DOWNTIME: 3 days to 2 weeks
COST: $1,062 to $2,146*