‘Tis the season of giving – as in giving a break to my Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation column partner, Dr. Judith James. With her always-busy schedule, a few weeks off around the holidays seems like the appropriate way to say thank you for the time and expertise Dr. James devotes to this column every week.
In her absence, I thought I’d devote my expertise to a topic about which I may or may not know as much as she does: holiday health. And how better to share that expertise than by answering a few questions that may or may not have been posed by actual readers.
Is fruit cake actually made with fruit?
No. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, I’d recommend my Grandma Emma’s infamous cucumber and cabbage loaf, which typically remained among the unfinished holiday leftovers until around Valentine’s Day due to its, um, unique flavor profile.
Why is Rudolph’s nose red?
I am not a veterinarian, but my extensive research on the topic indicates it could be a reaction to the feed Santa and the elves use. A switch to Purina’s hypoallergenic reindeer chow might be the answer. But if it worked, who would guide the sleigh?
Can you catch a cold from going out in the cold?
No. That’s a long-held misconception, much like the notion – perpetuated by the “Frosty the Snowman” holiday special I watched at least a dozen times as a kid – that when frozen water comes to life, its first words are, “Happy Birthday!” As far as I’ve been able to tell, individual exclamations can vary from snowperson to snowperson, but some popular initial utterances are, “Brrr, I’m cold,” and, “Why don’t I have any pants on?”
If you had to live on Christmas cookies or hot chocolate alone, which would be healthier?
Hot chocolate, assuming you’re not lactose intolerant. Plenty of protein and calcium, plus you’d always stay hydrated.
Are you in the pocket of Big Hot Chocolate?
I wish. I am still awaiting my payoff from Swiss Miss.
Is it ethical to have AI write my Christmas list?
I asked ChatGPT, and it generated a six-point analysis that essentially concluded, “It depends.” Thanks for nothing, robots.
We gave you some leeway on earlier questions, but that last one definitely had nothing to do with health.
Busted. Looks like it’s another year with coal in my stocking.
C’mon. With the climate crisis, you think Santa would still resort to coal?
Good point. Maybe it will just be compost. Nothing says Christmas at the Cohen home like a sock full of eggshells and coffee grounds.
So, can you offer a few healthy New Year’s resolutions?
That’s next week. Until then, happy holidays!
Cohen is a marathoner and senior vice president and general counsel at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. His mom swears she once really did get coal in her stocking, after calling her brother a “sourpuss.” (Times sure have changed.) Submit your health questions to email@example.com.