10 Ways To A Heart-Healthy Holiday

Adobe Stock License | #154994738
Adobe Stock License | #154994738

The holiday season, while filled with joy and celebration, can also be a challenging time for maintaining heart health. With an abundance of food, drink, and festive activities, it's easy to neglect the routines and habits that keep our hearts in top condition. Here are ten heart-healthy tips to help you navigate the holiday season without compromising your cardiovascular well-being.

1. Practicing Will Power

The holidays present countless temptations, from rich foods to sweet treats. Practicing will power is key to maintaining heart health during these times. Try to limit portion sizes, choose healthier options when possible, and listen to your body's signals of fullness to avoid overeating.

2. Start Your Holiday Meal with a Soup or Salad

Beginning your meal with a soup or salad can help control hunger and reduce the likelihood of overindulging in more calorie-dense dishes later on. Opt for broth-based soups or salads with plenty of vegetables to maximize the benefits.

3. Maintain Your Current Exercise Routine

Sticking to your regular exercise routine is crucial during the holidays. Regular physical activity helps manage weight, reduce blood pressure, and strengthen the heart. Even amidst a busy holiday schedule, try to find time for some form of exercise each day.

4. Don't Skip Meals, Eat Breakfast

Skipping meals, particularly breakfast, can lead to overeating later in the day. A healthy breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and helps control your appetite throughout the day, supporting heart health.

5. Prioritize Sleep

Adequate sleep is vital for heart health. Lack of sleep can lead to higher stress levels, weight gain, and increased risk of heart disease. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.

6. Beverages in Moderation - Alcohol, Sugary Drinks & Eggnog

Moderation is key when it comes to holiday beverages. Alcoholic drinks, sugary sodas, and rich eggnogs can add significant calories and sugar to your diet. Choose water or other low-calorie options when possible.

7. Beware of Sudden Strenuous Outdoor Activity

Holiday activities like shoveling snow or playing sports can be strenuous. If you're not regularly active, sudden intense physical exertion can strain the heart. Warm up before any activity and take breaks as needed.

8. Don't Skip Taking Medications

If you're on medications, particularly for heart-related conditions, it's essential to take them as prescribed, even during the holidays. Disruptions in medication routines can have serious implications for your heart health.

9. If You'll Be Outside for Long Periods, Stay Warm and Layer Up

Exposure to cold weather can increase heart rate and blood pressure, and can cause the heart to work harder. Dressing in layers, wearing a hat, and using gloves and scarves can help keep you warm when outdoors.

10. Minimize Stress

The holidays can be a stressful time. High stress levels can negatively impact heart health. Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Also, setting realistic expectations and seeking support when needed can help manage holiday stress,

By following these heart-healthy tips, you can enjoy the holiday season without sacrificing your cardiovascular health. Remember, moderation and mindfulness are key to navigating the festive period in a way that supports your overall well-being.

-----------------------------------

Traditional holiday foods that can also be healthy...

Many common holiday foods have heart-health benefits. When making your holiday meals, experiment with toppings and add-ins like low-sodium broths, olive oil, low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt, unsalted nuts, fruits, veggies and spices.

Instead of thickening sauces with rue or bechamel, try using homemade vegetable puree instead of the white flour and butter. And don't forget these favorites:

Sources

  1. American Heart Association: Healthy Eating
  2. Mayo Clinic: Health Benefits of Soup
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight
  4. American Heart Association: Nutrition Basics
  5. National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Alcohol and Public Health
  7. American Heart Association: Fitness Basics
  8. American Heart Association: Patient-Centered Care
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Winter Weather
  10. Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
  11. UC Davis Health: Tips To A Healthy Heart Over The Holidays
Author
Dr. Mark L. Meyer Dr. Meyer graduated from Haverford College with a Bachelor of Science, High Honors, in cellular and molecular biology, Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude. He attended the Yale University School of Medicine, where he also completed a categorical residency in Internal Medicine, served for one year as an Emergency Department attending physician, and held the title of Clinical Instructor in the Department of Surgery. During this time, Dr. Meyer obtained a J.D. from the Yale Law School, concentrating on medical ethics, scientific research law, and FDA law. He then completed a fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he obtained Level 3 Nuclear Cardiology training.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Adobe Stock License # 451894191

The Many Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, often revered for its rich taste and indulgence, also harbors an array of health benefits that go beyond mere pleasure. This blog post delves into the surprising and multifaceted health benefits of dark chocolate.
Adobe Stock License | #241431741

10 Tips to Protect Your Brain's Health

The human brain, a complex and vital organ, requires care and maintenance to remain healthy throughout our lives. With the rise in cognitive diseases like Alzheimer's and conditions such as dementia, it's increasingly important to adopt lifestyle habits.