Discussing your family health history during family holiday gatherings
Family get-togethers during the holiday season are good times to discuss family health history. Knowing your family health history can help prevent serious health problems.
Balintfy: The month of December can be especially busy. But it can also be an opportunity to focus on health.
Rodgers: Winter is a season of holiday celebrations and a time when families often get together to enjoy their traditions and festivities
Balintfy: Dr. Griffin Rodgers is an institute director at the NIH. He says the holiday season is an important opportunity for families to take time to talk about and even write down their family health history.
Rodgers: Many serious diseases, such as diabetes and kidney disease, as well as being overweight or obese, run in families. And knowing your family's health history is important to help you understand your chances of developing health problems.
Balintfy: Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and of those, 7 million don't know they have the disease. Having a family history of diabetes, is a risk factor for developing the disease. But Dr. Rodgers points out that while a family history of diabetes can't be changed, there are things that can make a difference.
Rodgers: For instance, if you have a family member with diabetes or kidney disease – such as a mother, father, brother, or sister – talk to your family health care team about making a plan to maintain a healthy weight or lose some weight if you are overweight, as well how you can make healthy food choices and be more physically active each day. Doing so can help delay or prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes which can lead to serious health problems such as blindness, amputation, kidney disease, heart disease and stroke.
Balintfy: Dr. Rodgers adds that in addition to making a year-round plan, there are tips for this time of year.
Rodgers: As you push to fulfill the demands of the hectic holiday season, make sure you carve out time to move more and make healthy food choices, and here's a few tips: Eat a healthy snack before a big event to prevent overeating at the party or gathering. Focus on family, friends and activity instead of the food that's there at the gathering. Stay active. Encourage your family and friends to take walks, dance and play games. These are all fun events.
Balintfy: Dr. Rodgers points out that saving up for a big meal may actually do more harm than good.
Rodgers: If you sort of decide early in the morning that I'm not going to eat at all today, because there's this big celebration tonight, you probably in terms of amount of daily calories you take in, end up taking in much, much more because you justify in your own mind, you know, I haven't eaten all day and so. So if one eats normally and potentially has a snack right before, you'll enjoy the time with your family as you eat more modest numbers of calories.
Balintfy: Other tips he recommends include planning ahead by preparing or bringing a food that fits into your meal plan. Also, watch the alcohol – that can be a major source of hidden calories. Water is a healthy, no-calorie beverage. For more information and tips on having a healthy holiday, as well as understanding the importance of learning about family health history, visit www.niddk.nih.gov. This is Joe Balintfy, at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Joe Balintfy
Sound Bite: Dr. Griffin Rodgers
Topic: family, health, health history, family health history, holiday, holiday season, diabetes, kidney disease, overweight, obese, obesity, health problems, disease, family history