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Which Came First – Summer Holidays or Food?

By Kristen Sumpter, M.A., Fulton County Extension Agent

Ah yes – summer is in full swing. Kids are in summer camps and adults are blasting the A/C for any source of cool air. This time of year is filled with nostalgic memories of beach vacations, road trips and summer holidays. At least for my family and friends, these days are not only spent with loved ones and beautiful views, but with delicious food – and a LOT of it!

This can change.

We know that a balanced diet and routine physical activity are an important part of maintaining a healthy weight and thus combating chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and even certain cancers (1). Practicing these two habits from in your day-to-day life is crucial to health, and the holidays are no exception. The World Health Organization recommends consuming less solid fats, added sugars and sodium as well as increasing one’s intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein (2). In addition, adults should exercise at least 150 minutes a week and youth even longer, at a minimum of 60 minutes a day. However, in a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014, 26.7% of adults in Georgia reported zero leisure-time physical activity and 18.7% of Georgian youth reported zero physical activity (3). Once the facts are in front of you, it’s blatantly obvious our summer holidays are in need of a complete 360.

Let’s start this change.

Try and make new traditions around food and activities and redefine our summer holidays. Don’t worry – we’re not saying to give up the cookouts,  we just want to give you information to help you make healthy decisions during your holiday celebrations! Instead of making an apple crisp dessert loaded with sugar and butter, serve fresh watermelon and berries to family and friends.

The day isn’t just about eating; have some of these fun group activities planned instead of that food competition:

  • Ping pong tournament
  • Water balloon fight
  • Corn hole or bean bag toss
  • Create your own Slip ‘N Slide with just a tarp, soap and water
  • Create a life-size scrabble game – all you need is pieces of cardboard and markers to create scrabble letters

Incorporating these activities will add to your overall physical activity for the day, which you can log onto www.WalkGeorgia.org. This summer, let’s worry less about the food and more about making memories with loved ones, because when you move more, you live more!

References:

  1. (2016) Chronic Disease Overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/
  2. (2015) Obesity and Overweight. World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en
  3. (2014) State Indicator Report on Physical Activity, 2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/downloads/pa_state_indicator_report_2014.pdf.