Heart Healthful Holiday Tips

The holidays can be a wonderful and carefree time, filled with festive parties, dinners, and family celebrations. Our guards are dropped and we often succumb to the temptation to overdo, over-indulge, and over eat. Here are a few friendly reminders – dos and don’ts – that can help you thoroughly enjoy yourself without awakening on January 2nd sporting an expanded waistline, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and elevated blood sugar.

Eat Wisely:

  • Employ portion control; enjoy small portions of a few of your favorite dishes.
  • Replace: heavy cream, chocolate chips, processed sugar & butter in baked goods and side dishes with: skim milk, low-fat cream, natural sugar substitutes like Stevia, and low-cholesterol, vegetable oil-based butter alternatives such as Smart Balance.
  • Replace high fat libations like eggnog and heavy cream in your coffee with skim or low-fat milk, and avoid excessive alcohol.
  • If you’re at a holiday cocktail party, alternate your favorite cocktail or glass of wine with a glass of water – your head, heart, liver, waistline (and probably pride) will be grateful.
  • Socialize and enjoy the camaraderie. Replace a mouthful of food or drink with lively conversation.
  • Read those food labels – choose low calorie, low-fat, low-sugar and low-salt alternatives to traditional foods – you’ll lower your caloric intakes and potentially keep your blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels at normal levels. Holiday drinks and mixers like cranberry juice and apple cider come in natural, low sugar versions that often taste just as good as their sugar-laden brethren.
  • Eat your greens – a fresh salad and healthful vegetables can aid your digestion and replace some of the high-calorie, high-fat foods that will surely confront you at a holiday dinner.
  • Stay off the gravy train. Slathering gravy over your entire plate of turkey and dressing will add excess fat, sodium, and calories to your meal. Keep your gravy portion to a tablespoon or two.
  • Eat a bite of dessert, or share that slice of pie with a loved one, instead stuffing yourself with large servings of your favorite sweets. Again, your body will thank you.

Stay Active:

  • Moderate exercise is a great way to burn off some of those holiday calories (and pounds). Take a brisk walk with your loved ones, sweep a little snow off the walk, or shoot a few baskets with the kids. It will work wonders on your heart and soul.

Happy holidays!

Additional source: American Heart Association

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