The holidays are not only hectic, but also they are fi lled with high-sugar, high-calorie treats. It’s hard to stay on a healthy path when stress and diet temptations lurk around every corner.The average person gains five pounds over the holidays, which can be hard on the heart. It’s important not to give up, even if you have a setback during the holiday season. Small changes can have a big impact on your health over the long-run.
A heart-healthy lifestyle not only includes maintaining an ideal weight and exercising, but also eating more fruits and vegetables and reducing fat and salt in our diets. This is important for adults and children. Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, and about a third of children and adolescents weigh too much.
The extra pounds put children at a greater risk of developing several debilitating and costly diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Tips for a healthy holiday
Heart disease is the leading killer for men and women in the U.S., but many of its risks can be diminished through small lifestyle changes. Try to avoid added stress during the holidays by not depriving yourself of foods you love. Instead, eat them less often and in smaller portions.
Other tips for a healthy holiday include:
- Find time to relax during the hectic holiday schedule by doing something for yourself once a day. Stroll around the neighborhood for 30 minutes looking at the Christmas lights or exercise indoors, if the weather doesn’t permit outside activities.
- Before a holiday party, eat a healthy snack, such as nonfat yogurt or a piece of fruit. The fruit will fill you up and help you pass up party foods.
- Don’t go without chocolate. Instead eat a piece of dark chocolate, which is full of antioxidants.
- Use the stairs, instead of the elevator, while shopping. Or park away from the store entrance, and walk a little farther. Every step counts.
- Buy lean cuts of meat for family meals, and boil or grill them to reduce the fat. When serving potatoes, use yams or sweet potatoes to increase vitamins and minerals. Try using lowfat buttermilk instead of butter and cream in mashed potatoes.
- Don’t forget the reason for the season. Spend time with people you love and reflect on your blessings.
Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline
If you have questions about heart attack or stroke symptoms, you can talk to a Western Baptist nurse free 24 hours a day on the Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline: 1-800-575-1911.
Send your questions!
Do you have a cardiac question tugging at your heart? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to HeartBeat, 2501 Kentucky Ave., Paducah, KY 42003. If we use it in a future HeartBeat column, you will receive a Western Baptist Hospital door prize.