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Heart-Healthy Tips for the Holiday Season

The holidays are a great time to indulge. Stressing about family gatherings, however, or rushing to buy presents, partying to all hours of the night, overindulging in Christmas cookies, eating a bit too much Thanksgiving turkey, and imbibing in holiday spirits can be tough on your health – especially on your heart health. Here are a few heart-healthy tips to get you through this holiday season.

Go into the holidays with a plan

Plan to get about 150 minutes of moderately vigorous activity each week and start that exercise plan as early in the holiday season as possible. Decide ahead of time how much weight gain is acceptable and weigh yourself regularly to make sure you are not exceeding your weight gain limit. Write your party events on a calendar and plan to eat low-calorie, low-fat meals before and after the event.

Rethink your holiday drink

Limit your intake of seasonal drinks, such as eggnog and pumpkin spice lattes, which tend to have more sugar and fat than other beverages. Add three parts of low fat or skim milk to one part of eggnog to reduce calories and fat without sacrificing flavor. Forgo the whipped cream on your cocoa and skip the alcohol in your eggnog. Check the apple cider label for added sugar that can bump up calories.

Choose wisely at family meals

Use spices instead of butter and salt to flavor food. Choose light turkey meat over dark meat, as lighter meat has less fat and fewer calories. Remove the skin before eating. Rinse canned beans and vegetables to reduce the sodium content.

Control portion sizes

Keep portions in check. A serving size of meat is approximately the size of a deck of cards. A serving size of vegetables is about the size of your fist. The American Heart Association suggests you limit gravy and whipped cream portions to about a tablespoon and dressing portions to about 1/4 cup. Sample a bite of dessert rather than having a whole serving. You can split portions with a family member or friend.

Get some exercise

Go sledding, ice skate, shovel the snow, and visit your local gym. Walk after meals, take the stairs up two flights or down three instead of the elevator, and squeeze in a few extra chores after work.

Avoid overbooking yourself

Carefully choose which events to attend so you do not overdo it. While holiday events are fun, overdoing it can lead to overeating, lack of sleep, fatigue, and stress.

For more heart-healthy tips for the holiday season, consult with your health care professional. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 770.730.0119 today to make an appointment with Virtual Imaging.

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