It’s holiday season again, and this year you may be more than ready for spending quality time with friends and family. But if you’re following a heart-healthy diet, you may wonder how you’re going to stick with your plan during the season of eating.
At Indus Cardiology, Dr. Yogesh Paliwal and our team of heart experts specialize in preventative cardiology. Whether you have a heart condition or not, everyone benefits from following a heart-healthy diet anytime of the year.
But we understand the temptation of all those holiday treats and want to help you enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your health.
Here, we share nine tips for maintaining your heart-healthy diet over the holidays.
Stick to your usual plan
The holidays are a busy time of year. Between the shopping, cooking, and parties, you may forget about yourself. One of the best things you can do to maintain your heart-healthy diet over the holidays is to stick to your usual plan.
Continue eating the same types of foods in the same portions around the same time each day.
Continue your exercise routine
Many people worry about weight gain during the holidays. The American Heart Association says you should use up as many calories as you take in when following a heart-healthy diet.
Continuing to prioritize exercise during the holidays may help you maintain a healthy weight. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity ― a brisk walk or bike ride — five days a week.
Eat before the festivities
We know you want to “save room” for that slice of pumpkin pie, but be sure to eat before going to any holiday parties. You can save room for your holiday goodies by eating low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods like a mixed green salad topped with chicken or sliced red and green peppers with hummus.
Going to a party hungry may lead to poor food choices and overeating.
Prepare heart-healthy dishes
Modify some of your favorite holiday recipes to make them heart healthy. Swap out your regular broth for low-sodium broth or make dips with fat-free Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
Focus on activities instead of food
For many, food is the center of most holiday activities. But you can change that. Instead of planning a celebration around a big meal, plan a party that involves activities like family games or a scavenger hunt. Or, plan a walk around the neighborhood to check out the holiday lights and decorations.
Fill your plate with veggies
Fruits and vegetables are top priority for the heart-healthy diet. When filling up your plate during the holiday meal, fill half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables — for example, salad greens, roasted Brussel sprouts, or steamed green beans.
Savor your meal
The holidays are busy enough. When eating your meal, slow down and savor the flavor. Eating slowly may prevent you from eating too much.
It takes about 20 minutes after you start eating for your brain to send out the signal that you’re full. Rushing through your meal may lead to a second helping, leaving you feeling stuffed and uncomfortable.
Be mindful of mindless snacking
Between all the baking and office goodies, you may find yourself mindlessly snacking throughout the day. Though you may only have a bite or two here and there, those bites add up over time.
Be mindful of your snacking. Instead of grazing and grabbing, put your snack on a plate, sit at a table, and mindfully eat your snack.
Enjoy your holiday treats
You can enjoy your favorite holiday treats while maintaining a heart-healthy diet. All foods fit as long as you eat them in moderation. Go ahead and eat your mother’s famous pecan stuffing or that slice of pumpkin pie. Just be mindful of your portions.
If you have concerns about heart health or you’re struggling to make healthy food choices, we can help. Schedule a cardiology consultation by calling the office most convenient to you today. We have offices in Pomana, Montclair, and West Covina, California.