Winter Health Tips for You and Your Family


Winter is here!


While our New England days may feel short in the winter, they also may feel super charged. Preparations for events and plans for cold-weather sports make this season exciting. Our activity schedules may take us from a jam-packed mall to a pristine ski trail. ‘Tis the season to also gather for traditional family dinners, neighborhood open houses, and friendly cookie bakes.

So you and your family can stay healthy, happy and stress free, we’ve assembled some health and safety tips to guide your winter season. We'll help you avoid pitfalls on the ski slopes or at the buffet table. And whenever you have a question, we don't take snow days: Our experts are here for you no matter what Mother Nature dishes out this winter!

Learn more from our experts about:

  • Safety on the slopes
  • Healthy eating tips
  • Food allergy safety during the holidays
  • Avoiding slips and falls

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If you are looking for more family friendly activities this winter, Lahey Health is proud to be sponsoring the outdoor ice skating rink at MarketStreet Lynnfield, the North Shore’s largest shopping venue. The rink is a great family destination and we are excited to help bring it to North Shore families. It is open through February 2017.

As the Official Healthcare Partner of the Boston Bruins hockey team, our goal is to share health and wellness information with hockey fans in our community and sponsor enjoyable events for all ages throughout the season.

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Control the Calorie Count for a Healthy New Year

The holidays can be a decadent season. Along with opening boxes of gifts, we open boxes of candy and cartons of ice cream and chaffing dishes of meatballs and jugs of egg nog and, well, you get the picture… Holiday eating can tip to the overindulgent—and tip the scales, leaving us with a layer of unwanted pounds to shed in the New Year.

Here are some tips from our experts, Erica Cintron Ouellette, RD and Patricia Ferreira, RN, at Lifestyle Management Institute at Lahey Outpatient Center, Danvers, to help you navigate even the most tempting treat displays so you can keep a lid on calories.

  • Focus on your friends and family—not the food.
  • Have a plan; don’t arrive at the party hungry.
  • Drink water, flavored sparkling water, coffee or tea in place of calorie-laden beverages or punch.
  • The veggie and hummus platter is your friend; think of bringing one to your next party!
  • Slowly savor your food; don’t eat until you are stuffed (skip the “a la mode”!).
  • Look for balance on your plate, including a high percentage of fruits and vegetables.
  • Control your portion size and you can still have the treats you crave most; just a bit will suffice.
  • Don’t begin a diet over the holidays; simply focus on maintaining your weight.
  • Consider increasing your exercise; it will help burn off unwanted calories and may even give you an energy boost!

When the last piece of fruitcake is finally gone, reward your good eating behavior with a new outfit for the New Year! And if the New Year includes any diet-related resolutions, don’t forget that our skilled Lahey dieticians and nutritionists are ready to help you reach your goals. We even offer specialized lifestyle classes in weight management, cardiac rehabilitation and diabetes care.

Navigate Winter without Slips and Falls

When the temperature drops, we all need some special safety tips. Icy front steps and icy roof dams are all part of the joys of a New England winter. But with these clever tricks and cautions in mind, you’ll be good to go whether it is rain, sleet or snow!

Heeding some heads-up advice will help you avoid upending falls:

  • Avoid carrying packages that disrupt your balance or may hinder your vision.
  • Walk slowly and watch for slick walkways or wet entrances.
  • Wear sensible footwear with good traction.
  • If you do fall, try to roll with the fall.

When the snow starts to pile up, take care as you dig out:

  • Warm up with light exercise before you begin shoveling.
  • Pace yourself; take breaks; protect your back (use your leg muscles whenever possible).
  • Never put your hand in a snow blower and always keep children at a safe distance.

Roof work is dangerous and often better left to the professionals, but if you have to use a ladder this winter:

  • Be sure it is sturdy and has slip-resistant feet.
  • Stay far away from power lines.
  • Enlist a friend to hold the ladder and avoid standing on the top three rungs.

These helpful suggestions—along with good old-fashioned common sense—should help keep you safe when you are outdoors for fresh air, exercise or (groan!) chores this winter. However, if you find yourself suddenly nursing a sore back or sprained ankle, don’t forget Lahey Health is here 24/7/365—no matter what the weather!

Avoid the Downfalls of Downhill Skiing

Embracing this bracing season has its own unique rewards. The beauty of an unbroken trail for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing is hard to match. Ice skating on backyard rinks or town ponds (when safe!) is fun and exciting—and can be a great social outlet during the cold weather.

Heading to the mountains for downhill skiing is another thrilling New England activity, but it can have its spills and perils. Here are some tips to keep you safe on the slopes from Michael Muldoon, MS, PT, Manager at Addison Gilbert and Beverly Hospital Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine.

  • Wear a helmet. It is your best prevention against a concussion. And before you leave home, test that everyone in the family has a helmet that fits well—just as you would with your boots.
  • Do appropriate warm up. Make some dynamic moves to prepare your muscles and nerves. Try jogging in place while wearing your ski boots and bending your knees as if you were about to sit on the chairlift.
  • Practice falling. Through practice, you can learn to control your fall to the ground. It is impossible to prevent every accident, but smart preparations can help mitigate the effects.
  • Dress for the weather. Wear layers to protect you from the cold, with a moisture-wicking fabric as your base. You want to avoid muscles tensing in the cold or exposed skin becoming numb.
  • Ski with others. The slopes can get busy: Set a meeting location and time for everyone in your party.

If you are concerned about a possible ski-related injury, your Lahey experts—PCPs, surgeons, therapists and more—are here to advise you. As Michael says, “When in doubt, get it checked out!”

Stay Safe from Allergic Reactions

If you or anyone in your family has food allergies, holiday feasting can be anything but relaxing. Many challenging situations only get worse at the holidays. And the same is true for anyone who suffers from asthma. Nurse Practitioner Julie Jones from Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s Allergy Department shares the following advice to help keep you and your loved ones safe and comfortable this season.

  • If you or anyone in your family requires an EpiPen, an inhaler or other medication, be sure they are up to date and that you have them within easy reach.
  • Inform your host of any allergies within your party prior to your arrival and again upon your arrival.
  • If you cannot be sure of an item’s ingredients, don’t risk a taste. (Desserts can be especially hazardous.)
  • Pack some safe snacks (or even a meal, if appropriate) so that you can relax and join in the social aspects of eating.
  • Check to see if there are pets at the home you are planning to visit. Avoid direct contact or wash your hands immediately afterwards if you do have contact. Limit your time at the house.
  • Consider wearing a mask if you are sensitive to dust while unpacking decorations.
  • Try an artificial Christmas tree if you react to mold on a real tree.

With these cautions in mind, you should be able to safely enjoy the office buffet, the holiday house guest, the neighborhood pot luck or Grandma’s cookie bake!

If you or a family member need advice or is interested in allergy testing, remember that Lahey experts are close by. You may also want to speak with an allergist about taking medications ahead of possible exposures to reduce or prevent symptoms. You can reach our Allergy and Immunology providers with all your questions here.