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On Call with Dr. Kumar: How to have a safe, healthy Thanksgiving celebration

On Call with Dr. Kumar: How to stay healthy this Thanksgiving
On Call with Dr. Kumar: How to stay healthy this Thanksgiving 04:01

NEW YORK -- Thanksgiving is a time for food, family and relaxation. But for health care workers, it can also be one of the busiest days of the year. 

Dr. Nidhi Kumar is On Call for CBS New York to tell us how to stay safe and healthy during this holiday weekend. 

Travel health tips

With millions of Americans expected to travel this Thanksgiving, what are some good health tips for travel?

"Three big issues around travel: Respiratory infections, blood clots and missing medications," Dr. Kumar explained.

  • Get vaccinated, wear a mask and, if you're sick, just stay home
  • Are you at risk of blood clots? Make sure to move around during travel
  • Set reminders to so you don't miss your medications

For the feast

What are some unhealthy foods to watch out for? 

"The big issue here is going to be sodium, sodium, sodium. That's the chemical found in salt, and it's everywhere -- cheese, crackers, stuffing, mashed potatoes, you name it," said Dr. Kumar. "You really want to be mindful about how much salt you're consuming, try to stay hydrated."

What about the alcohol?

Wednesday is considered to be one of the biggest drinking days of the year. 

Binge drinking is defined as 5 drinks or more for a male, 4 drinks or more for a female. It can lead to hospitalizations from impaired driving, household accidents, something called "holiday heart" -- an arrhythmia related to too much alcohol consumption -- and, finally, the worsening of existing mental health issues.

"Keep your alcohol consumption down. If you're hosting, consider serving a mocktail. If you're drinking, consider alternating an alcoholic drink and then maybe two non-alcoholic drinks, and stay hydrated, keep your electrolytes up," she said.

Be mindful of mental health

The holidays can be such a stressor, with the demand of deadlines, the ongoing loneliness epidemic and the lack of daylight. 

"Lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle - diet, exercise, get good sleep, keep alcohol consumption down, a little yoga and meditation always helps," she said. "Sometimes the best way to feel good and happy is to help others, and there are so many opportunities to volunteer right now. Altruistic behavior actually releases dopamine and serotonin in your brain. So the best thing to do for your mental health is really to do for others."

Watch Dr. Kumar's full interview above for more advice.

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