Holidays the Healthy Way

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays have traditionally been about gorging ourselves on huge fatty meals and then falling asleep in front
of the television. But these upcoming holidays should be about so much
more than eating, says Dr. Allan Handysides, health ministries director
for the Seventh-day Adventist world church.

“The holidays are about so many other things–renewing family ties,
getting to know each other, supporting each other, playing with each
other–that’s why the holidays are not just about eating, says
Handysides. Dr. Handysides outlined ways to have healthy, happy
holidays in a special Ground 7 News interview last week.

He noted that contrary to the North American tradition of sedentary
holidays this is the perfect time to get in more physical activity. He
suggested swimming, snowshoeing, skiing, and even picnics–adding,
“When you have to carry all that food you won’t eat as much.”

Fun activities coupled with smaller, healthier meals may be cause for
staying in good shape throughout the holidays.

“The big problem is that around the holidays we tend to have things
that are too sweet and too fatty. If we are going to have those things
we need to cut down on them. People [eat so much that] they can hardly
move and then go to sleep.

These are “stereotypical ways of keeping the holidays,” Handysides
explains. But “there’s nothing that says on Christmas day we can’t go
out and visit people and those who are less fortunate. It is far better
to [invite others to] share the bounty from our table.”

“If we calculate the amount of food that we eat on [Christmas] day we
could probably feed a family in a developing country for a week. We
could decide to just have a simple meal–I’m not saying a tasteless
meal–and … send that money to an organization that looks after
children. That would be a tremendous blessing.”

“Indulging occasionally once or twice a year isn’t going to hurt,” he
assures. “I just think we don’t need to gormandize.” He suggests using
smaller plates to help us consume less.

Dr. Handysides also laments our ability to be constantly connected to
our offices even while on vacation. “Christians feel guilty if they
don’t answer their emails immediately. In business it’s all about
money, but if you don’t make time for families and friends you are
doing a dreadful disservice to them.”

“When I’m on holiday I don’t even look at my email. When I take a
vacation and people from the office call I act grumpy and I make them
feel guilty. It’s a right that we all have to have a little time for
our family. Let us not either expect of others or demand of ourselves
that we be tied to our computers.”

Handysides spoke of his own experience earlier in his career as a
medical doctor. “One thing I regret when my older two children were
growing up was that I was so busy in specialization–my shift was 36
hours on and 12 hours off. What kind of father could I be? When I went
into mission service I had more time and [my children] tell me that
redeemed me.”

“These holidays are very important for the family,” he continues. “They
are sacred times. Forget about the business! You can do without an
extra $1,000! The time is what is important. Your children would love
… for you to give them time to talk about what they are interested in
and if we could do that we would bring to our families much healthier
mental health.”

He closed by addressing those who are especially busy during the
holidays doing a lot of volunteer work for their church family. “If you
are involved over the holidays in the choir, orchestra or preaching you
also owe time to your [immediate] family. Take another two days and
give it to the children even if it is a workday. Children need to know
that they are number one in your affections.”


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