LOS ANGELES – As you celebrate Christmas and look toward the New Year, the  Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) offers these useful tips for keeping in good health and positive spirits during this holiday season.  These tips provide simple yet powerful actions people can do to help make the holiday season safer, healthier and more enjoyable.

 “Let this holiday season be joyful and stress-free,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County.  “The holidays bring parties, luncheons and social gatherings.  Let’s be mindful and enjoy once-a-year holiday foods, but in smaller portions. Try incorporating simple, healthy changes in your day such as parking farther from the store or mall. Share the gift of health with family and friends.”

Healthy Holiday Tips

 ·      Enjoy those once-a-year holiday treats – just eat less of them. It’s possible to indulge without packing on the holiday pounds. Choose the items you can’t live without, and enjoy them in smaller portions. Choose Less, Weigh Less.

·    Get moving – and not just at the gym. Park your car farther away from the entrance of the grocery store or shopping mall. Take the stairs at the shopping mall instead of the elevator or escalator.

·    Decorate safely. Holidays are the time to bring out the tinsel and lights, but accidents can happen when decorations go awry. Use flame-resistant or non-combustible materials to trim a tree. And when you leave your home or go to bed, be sure to turn off all holiday lights inside and outside your residence.

·    Manage your stress. The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health. Be mindful about overcommitting and overspending to reduce your stress level. Balance work, home and holiday parties. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your family this holiday season. And above all, try to get enough sleep each night to stay well-rested, refreshed and ready to go!

·    Wash your hands. Germs can survive on door handles, railings and other surfaces you touch with your hands. After being in crowded places and always before eating, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds (hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice) or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

·  Don’t skip meals to save calories for later. Skipping meals can cause you to overeat and consume more calories than if you had small meals throughout the day. Start your day with a healthy breakfast – a key to long-term weight loss.

· Avoid foodborne illness by washing fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly, separating raw meat and poultry from other food, and using separate cutting boards, knives, and platters to prepare meats. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. When in doubt, throw it out.

·    Drink up – water, that is. Did you know that there are 22 packets of sugar in a regular 20- ounce soda? You wouldn’t eat that many packs of sugar, so why would you drink them? Try water, unsweetened tea, or low-fat milk for a satisfying thirst quencher that won’t pour on the pounds.

· Don’t let holiday stress allow you to give in to your cigarette craving. Instead, brush your teeth, drink water, take deep breaths, grab a cinnamon stick, or go for a walk. Call the California Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-NO-BUTTS (1-800-662-8887) to talk to a supportive counselor who can offer free help and a plan to quit for good.

 For more tips on how to stay healthy during the holidays, visit Choose Health LA on Twitter @ChooseHealthLA, on Facebook and at ChooseHealthLA.com.