The holidays are a time for food, family, and fun — but don’t forget your heart health! Try these tips to have a heart-healthy holiday.The holidays are a time for food, family, and fun — but don’t forget your heart health! Try these tips to have a heart-healthy holiday.
The holiday season is full of baking, gifting and, unfortunately, visits to the emergency room. Year after year, New York City ER doctors see a ten percent uptick in patients during the holidays. Why? All of the merriment that comes with Thanksgiving and Christmas brings light-hanging disasters, kitchen accidents, and eggnog-induced falls.
Heart disease risk factors, in particular, skyrocket during the last quarter of the year. From heavy comfort foods to end-of-the-year stress, the holidays can be tough on your heart. Follow these tips to keep your heart healthy all season long.
Enjoy Your Holiday Feast, But Make Heart-Healthy Choices
Between office parties, Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, the holiday season is filled with opportunities to eat delicious food. Sadly, our favorite holiday foods are often laden with unhealthy fats, sugar, and carbohydrates. A typical turkey dinner with all the fixings can easily add up to over 4,000 calories, which is twice the daily limit for an adult.
During the holiday season, people who have high cholesterol or are recovering from heart conditions have to be extra mindful of what they eat. Here are a few simple things you can do to make heart-healthy decisions during a holiday dinner:
- If you’re doing the cooking, look for opportunities to swap out certain ingredients for heart-healthy ones. You don’t have to abandon your great-grandmother’s mashed potato recipe, but skip the cheese and swap out artery-clogging butter or cream for low-sodium chicken broth.
- Load up on the vegetables! With all of the great winter vegetables out there — like roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and squash — you won’t be tempted to fill up on simple carbs.
- Ditch the doggy bag. It’s ok to indulge in your favorite holiday foods every once in a while, but it’s not healthy to indulge for a week thereafter.
- Don’t skip a meal just because you’re going to a party later. You’re less likely to make smart choices when you’re hungry, so eat a small, high-protein meal before you head out.
Food and celebration go hand in hand, but practicing these tips will keep you from getting carried away. Be mindful of your portion sizes and you won’t miss out on your favorite meals.
Don’t Let Holiday Stress Damage Your Heart
The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most stressful time for a lot of people. Party planning, gift wrapping, and wrangling family members can take a toll on your health. Stress can’t cause a heart attack, but chronic stress can cause cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscles.
Taking on too much responsibility is the number one cause of stress during the holidays, especially for women. Start by breaking up larger tasks and taking shortcuts, like only sending Christmas letters to your closest friends or doing your holiday decorating over a few days instead of all at once. Set a realistic schedule that includes time to rest and exercise for a few minutes a day.
Also, if the party invitations start to snowball, don’t feel guilty about staying home. Take some time for yourself amidst all that you’re doing for others.
Have A Heart-Healthy Holiday!
In between your holiday fun, reach out to the experts at Tri-City Cardiology. During your appointment, our team of board-certified cardiologists will make sure you go into the new year with a strong, healthy heart.