Ho! Ho! Ho! Yes, it’s that time of year. Your days may be filled with shopping and parties and all sorts of holiday celebrations. While all those events can be fun, you may find yourself surrounded by foods that are laden with sugar and fat. So how can you stay healthy this holiday season?
Most experts agree that avoiding excess fat is a key factor for good heart health. This means reducing your intake of whole milk, cream, and other full-fat dairy products, as well as some oils and meats. It also means steering clear of trans fats, which are often found in cookies, cakes, and fried foods.
Instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t have, plan your days around lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Here are some ideas for incorporating these items into your holiday eating:
- Go for color. Whenever possible, make fresh fruits and vegetables the main attraction on your plate. This time of year, choose green beans, sweet potatoes (without those marshmallows), cranberries, apples, pears, and other brightly colored options.
- Talk turkey. Different people have different traditions, but turkey is a popular item on the buffet table. It is high in protein, has less fat than other meats, and is rich in niacin and vitamin B6. Just but be sure to avoid the gravy. If ham, beef, and other meats are served, try for a lean portion and just have a little.
- Cook the right way. Some perfectly healthy foods become unhealthy when they are covered with cheese and cream. Choose low-fat cooking methods, such as baking, broiling, roasting, and steaming.
- Limit the libations. Many studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can be good for your health. But too much can lead to heart disease and certain cancers. Most experts advise no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. So at the next get-together, enjoy a glass of wine or a beer if you like. Try to avoid high-calorie choices such as eggnog and mixed drinks. Or you can opt for sparkling water or cider.
- Practice portion control. There may be times when you just have to indulge. If that’s the case, allow yourself a sliver of pie or a spoonful of casserole. But no seconds!
- Burn it off. When your to-do list is very long, you may shove exercise to the bottom, but don’t make that mistake. Regular exercise can help you fight holiday stress, boost your mood, and counter the calories from that sugar cookie you couldn’t live without. Try to find 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.
To learn more about a heart-smart diet, consult the Health Library at Denton Regional Medical Center. If you have other questions and need a physician referral, call 940-898-0629. Serving Denton and North Texas, we’re here to keep you healthy.