The holiday season is often synonymous with decadent feasts, tempting desserts, and festive beverages. If you’re committed to a heart-healthy lifestyle, you may feel like you must choose between celebrating the holidays and protecting your heart. Good news — you can do both.
Mark L. Meyer, MD, FACP, FACC, and our team at Madison Avenue Cardiovascular in midtown Manhattan, New York City, share their tips for enjoying a heart-healthy holiday season.
If you know you're going to a dinner party, eat a light, healthy snack before you go. This can curb your appetite and prevent overeating.
Include your favorites and leave your second choice on the plate. For instance, if you prefer stuffing to potatoes, enjoy a healthy portion and pass on the spuds.
Fill up on fresh carrot strips or snap peas to indulge your crunch cravings while avoiding fatty or fried appetizers.
If you're hosting, make heart-healthy versions of your favorite dishes by:
- Using olive oil instead of butter
- Choosing whole grains over refined grains
- Incorporating more vegetables and fruits into your dishes
- Choosing lean proteins like turkey or fish
If your tastebuds refuse to skip your traditional holiday favorites, cut the portion size and enjoy.
Perfection is not a healthy goal. If you overindulge at one meal, make a healthier choice at the next. The holidays are a time for celebration, and it's OK to treat yourself occasionally.
Practice mindful eating
Savor each bite. Rather than rushing through your meal, take the time to enjoy the flavors and textures. Eating slowly not only allows you to appreciate the food more but can also help you recognize when you're full, reducing the chances of overeating.
Incorporate physical activity into your holiday traditions. Go for a family walk after dinner, have a dance-off to your favorite festive tunes, or engage in a playful snowball fight.
Shop actively by taking the stairs instead of elevators during your holiday shopping spree, or park a little farther away to get some extra steps in.
Continue your daily workouts throughout the season. Regular physical activity strengthens the heart and helps burn those extra holiday calories. It also improves mood and can help reduce holiday-related stress.
Limit alcohol and sugary beverages
Alcohol and sugary beverages add unnecessary calories. If you do choose to drink, do so in moderation. Consider seltzer water with a splash of cranberry juice and a lime wedge as a festive, low-calorie drink option.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Water is essential for your overall health. It aids in digestion, keeps your skin looking fresh, and can even help curb appetite. Add a twist of fresh orange and use a holiday goblet for decorative appeal.
Listen to your body
It’s OK to indulge sometimes, but it’s essential to recognize when you’ve had enough. If you feel full, decline that extra serving of dessert or mashed potatoes. If your schedule can’t handle yet another pre-holiday gathering, organize an after-holiday party.
Stress can adversely affect your heart and overall health, and nothing says stress like the holidays. Find ways to de-stress with relaxation techniques that work for you, whether reading a book, practicing deep breathing exercises, or simply listening to calming music.
By being mindful and making a few adjustments, you can ensure that you’re looking after your heart while making the most of this special time.
For outstanding cardiac care year-round, schedule an evaluation at Madison Avenue Cardiology today. Call our office or request a visit online.