Between cookie exchanges and family gatherings, this weekend will make it hard to be heart healthy. In fact, the holidays and the days that follow are notoriously bad for heart health and cardiology patients. Your local Macon Cardiologists wanted to give you a few ways to consider your heart during the Christmas weekend.
- Take a Walk Before Dessert- It’s easy to become sedentary on holidays. A great heart healthy option is to go for a family walk in between dinner and dessert. This allows your body to release any stress, metabolize a heavy meal and stimulates a closer bond between you and your family. Also, you are less likely to over-indulge after exercise.
- Snack Smart -or- Skip the Snacks- The main event may be the Christmas meal but snacks are always around on holidays. Make sure you have some healthy options available like nuts, carrots or fresh fruit. Avoid high carb foods or processed sugar in between your meals.
- Make the Main Dish the Right Dish- Turkey (roasted, not fried) is an excellent, delicious main dish for your Christmas dinner. Rather than a roast, it is lean, high in protein, and easy to digest. This will help reduce the fats consumed over the weekend.
- Soft On The Salt- When cooking, it’s easy to make meals more heart healthy by skipping the salt or using a healthy salt substitute. Nu-Salt mimics the taste of salt but does not have the same negative effects on your blood pressure. Be sure to contact your nutritionist, cardiologist, or PCM before making any drastic changes to your diet.
- Do Not Arrive Hungry- If you starve yourself all day before the main course, you are much more likely to overindulge in the meal. Eat light healthy snacks before your main meal and focus on portion control.
- Avoid Alcohol- Excessive drinking can trigger Atrial Fibrillation and even lead to a stroke. The symptoms of a hangover can be similar to heart failure or a cardiac event. If you have a history of heart issues, it’s best to avoid drinking.
- Do Not Break Your Diet- If you have recently suffered a heart attack or heart failure, it’s important to avoid changing your diet drastically over the holiday weekend. A sudden excess of salt, alcohol, or heavy meals can exacerbate your issues.
- Avoid Canned Foods and Artificial Products- While premade, processed food can be easier, it’s much higher in sodium and chemicals. In fact, one serving of canned cream of mushroom soup in Green Bean Casserole can exceed a cardiac patient’s daily allotment of salt. Instead, opt for a DIY method with fresh ingredients.
- Make the Holiday About More Than Food and TV- Many families have a tradition of football or field games during the holidays. Getting outdoors can help keep you from over eating or being all around sedentary. Try adding in board games, walks, outdoor sports, and crafts.
- Drink Water- Dehydration from soda, sodium, sugar, and alcohol can put a toll on your body. Make the heart healthy choice by making sure you drink water regularly.
For any issues or concerns, it’s important to contact your cardiologist and follow your health plan, even during the holidays.