Tips For Surviving The Holiday Season From The American Heart Association

December 01, 1998

A holiday table groaning with food doesn't have to leave you groaning with remorse. With a little planning, you can make your holiday season a delicious and healthy time for family and fun. If you are at risk for or have heart disease, following a little good sense during this season of reflection can reap benefits all year long. Here are some tips from American Heart Association volunteer, Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., that can help you to enjoy the many festive treats that abound during the holiday season.

A healthy diet is one that is bursting with fruits and vegetables - the American Heart Association recommends at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.Enjoy!
The American Heart Association stresses the importance of enjoying healthy food as one of the most effective ways to take care of your health. Because tastes vary so widely, the AHA issues guidelines that help people find a healthy diet that appeals to their unique taste, rather than offering a rigid diet. By delaying dessert, you may find that your appetite for sweets lessens. Or, you may find that you can be satisfied with one-half of a slice of pumpkin pie and a sliver of apple pie instead of the full slices of both that you ate in past years. Or, you might consider eating only the pie filling, since the crust of pies are often made with lard or hydrogenated oils, both of which contain high amounts of saturated fats. If you are the host, you may consider washing one load of dishes before dessert, so that you have a chance to "digest." For some individuals, desserts may be "trigger" foods - once you start eating them, you can't stop. If you recognize yourself in that description, selecting a sweet alternative - like fruit would be wise. This is when an edible centerpiece can come in handy!

Consider taking a walk at "half-time," or before dessert. Walking, which could be a group or solo activity, will help energize you after a large meal, and might begin to burn off some of those extra calories. Most people will burn up about 300 calories by walking briskly for about an hour.

Taking medication?
If you take medication, check with your physician if you are planning to "starve" yourself before a big meal. Some medications are meant to be taken with food, and skipping even a light meal could have serious consequences. The bottom line this holiday season, is to enjoy the season's bounty in moderation. Taking care of your own health is a great gift to give your loved ones this season. Enjoy the feast, but feast with wisdom.

American Heart Association

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