Holiday Health Myths Busted

by Laura Purcell

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and indulgence. As we gather with loved ones and savor delicious meals, it’s easy to fall prey to common health myths that can dampen our festive spirits. But fear not! In this blog, we debunk five popular holiday health myths, empowering you to make informed choices and fully enjoy the season without any unnecessary worries. So, let’s separate fact from fiction and embrace a healthier and happier holiday season together!

Turkey Makes You Sleepy

This legend has a strong grip on the collective consciousness, with few holiday myths having such a firm hold. It has become widely accepted and omnipresent in popular culture, from television shows to advertisements, that indulging in everyone’s favorite holiday fowl is sure to lull you into a peaceful slumber. The origin of the myth comes from turkey’s tryptophan content. Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid that is present in many foods, from milk to nuts and poultry. Your body uses tryptophan to make serotonin and melatonin – the hormone responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. However, for many people, there’s not enough tryptophan in turkey to have any appreciable effect on your drowsiness.  So what about that sleepiness you feel after a big holiday meal? It’s likely due to plain old overeating, which can make you feel sluggish and drowsy.

Light Meat Turkey is Healthier

While we’re on the subject of turkey, it’s common knowledge that the “white meat” part is better for you, right? Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. You may have strong feelings about your preferred cut of meat, but it’s important to note that both white meat (breast meat and wings) and dark meat (thighs and drumsticks) have their own nutritional benefits. It’s true that dark meat does have more fat per serving, though the difference is incremental. Dark meat also has more vitamins and minerals, including zinc, iron, and selenium. Regardless of whether you prefer the lean goodness of white meat or flavorful and juicy dark meat, there’s room to incorporate both options on your holiday dinner plate.

Warm Up With Alcohol

“Have a nip of whiskey to warm up!” Contrary to popular belief, consuming alcohol does not actually warm you up when it’s cold. While it may create a temporary sensation of warmth, alcohol actually has a negative impact on your body’s ability to regulate temperature. When you consume alcohol, it causes blood vessels to dilate (widen), resulting in increased blood flow to the skin’s surface. This gives the illusion of warmth and may even cause your skin to flush, but in reality, it causes heat to be lost from the body at a faster rate. As a result, your body’s core temperature actually decreases, making you more susceptible to the cold. Additionally, alcohol can impair judgment and decision-making, which can lead to poor choices and increased risk of hypothermia or frostbite in cold weather conditions. Therefore, it is important to rely on proper clothing, insulation, and other appropriate measures to stay warm in cold weather, rather than relying on alcohol as a means of warmth.

Going Out in the Cold Will Give You a Cold

“Put on a coat, you’re going to catch a cold!” We’ve all heard it at some point, but going out in the cold weather does not directly cause a cold. Colds are caused by viruses, specifically the rhinovirus, and not by exposure to cold temperatures. While it is true that cold weather can weaken the immune system temporarily, making us more susceptible to catching a cold, it is the transmission of the virus from person to person that actually leads to the infection. In fact, staying indoors in close proximity to others can increase the chances of catching a cold due to the higher likelihood of coming into contact with the virus. Your best bet is to maintain good hygiene practices, such as washing hands regularly and avoiding close contact with infected individuals

Holiday Weight Gain is Inevitable

The holiday season brings an abundance of food and tempting treats, so it’s no surprise that many people resign themselves to packing on a few pounds during the festivities. However, the belief that holiday weight gain is inevitable is actually a myth. While it is true that the holiday season often involves indulging in delicious meals and treats, it is possible to enjoy the festivities without gaining weight. By adopting a mindful approach to eating and incorporating physical activity into your routine, you can maintain a healthy balance during the holidays. With moderation, portion control, and staying active, you can debunk the myth of holiday weight gain and enjoy the season without compromising your health and well-being.