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9 Tips for Watching Your Cholesterol While Enjoying Holiday Festivities

Most people have a tendency to eat more and exercise less during the holiday season, so it’s no surprise that cholesterol levels tend to spike. Feasts with family and friends and attending work parties are all part of celebrating the festivities, but it doesn’t have to mean overindulging and abandoning your healthy eating habits. If you’re watching your cholesterol, it may seem as if you have to deprive yourself during the holidays. If you’re a cholesterol watcher, you can carefully plan your indulgences to celebrate the season without ruining all the hard work you’ve put in throughout the year.

Our experts at Heart Rhythm Associates want to share these 9 tips to help prevent your numbers from spiking this holiday season.

Tip #1: Choose your meat carefully

Turkey and ham are staples during the holidays, and you don’t have to leave them off the plate if you’re managing your cholesterol. Instead, choose your cuts carefully. Opt for turkey breast when you’re filling up your holiday plate because it’s one of the leanest holiday meat options. A serving contains about 2 grams of saturated fat.

Tip #2: Skip seconds and thirds

The holidays are often a time of overindulgence where you’re encouraged to eat as much as you desire. However, it’s important to show some restraint. Avoiding overeating will help keep your cholesterol levels under control. Instead of second and third helpings, stick to one serving, and your heart will thank you.

Tip #3: Practice portion control

Visions of dumping heaping helpings of dressing with all the fixings may come to mind when you think of the holidays, but it’s bad news if you’re trying to remain health conscious. Being mindful of portion sizes when you fill your plate helps you avoid eating too much saturated fat and excess calories.

Tip #4: Eat mindfully

Practicing mindful eating during the holidays is an excellent way to remain cholesterol conscious and keep your eating habits under control. A smart way to do this is to avoid multitasking during your holiday meals. Make a plan to sit down and enjoy your food without distractions such as television, phone calls, or board games. This way you're tuned in to your body's signals of hunger and fullness.

 

Tip #5: Plan food-free activities

Holiday festivities often center around meals, a reality that can easily lead to overindulging. This year when family and friends come together to celebrate the holidays have some activities planned that don't involve food. You may want to have board games on hand or your favorite holiday movies. This way you can enjoy celebrating the holidays in a less food-focused manner.

Tip #6: Go easy on dessert

Holidays and sweets go hand-in-hand. From cakes and pies to cookies and cupcakes, sweets are often everywhere you turn during the holidays. The processed carbohydrates that these sweets are made of have a negative impact on cholesterol. Moderation is key to staying healthy while participating in holiday festivities. Instead of enjoying every treat you come across, it's wise to decide which dessert to enjoy ahead of time. Using this method ensures that you avoid depriving yourself on the holidays but remain within healthy guidelines.

Tip #7: Think fresh

If you're in charge of holiday food, aim for fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh lean meat as part of your holiday meal plan. Fresh fruit helps please your sweet tooth, while fresh vegetables pack a lot of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive, and served raw, they deliver a satisfying crunch.

Tip #8: Drink smart

Eggnog and other holiday beverage staples are laden with sugar and saturated fat. Trading in these cholesterol-unfriendly beverages for healthier options can keep you on a health-conscious path during the holidays. Herbal tea is an excellent holiday beverage and adding fresh spices like cinnamon or mint helps keep things festive. Try having your favorite herbal teas on hand during the holidays.

Tip #9: Make cholesterol-friendly holiday meals

Building a healthier plate during the holidays requires some creativity in how you cook. You can trim the fat and make healthier versions of staples like stuffing by using whole-grain bread and a butter substitute. You won’t have to give up flavor in other holiday favorites like macaroni and cheese if you use skim milk, low-fat cheese and avoid additions like bacon.

Here at our office in Little Rock, Arkansas, cardiologist Dr. Van De Bruyn offers the highest quality care and a comprehensive approach to heart health. For more information and to schedule an appointment with him, call our office or use the convenient online booking form.  

 

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