10 Heart-Healthy Holiday Tips
Making healthy choices can be difficult during the holiday season. Family parties, work events and neighborhood gatherings are often full of tempting, high-calorie foods and drinks. Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular has tips to help you enjoy the holidays and stay heart-healthy in the process.
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1. Practice portion control.
Keep an eye on portion sizes and avoid overloading your holiday plate. Remember to eat slowly and enjoy the food. When the meal is over, put leftovers away in the refrigerator instead of leaving them out on the counter for grazing.
2. Stay Active
Getting regular exercise is especially important during the holiday season, especially if you are under additional stress. Be mindful of your daily schedule and find ways to integrate even small amounts of exercise into your day. Take the opportunity to turn exercise into family fun and ask people to join you.
3. Get plenty of sleep.
Quality sleep is important to maintaining good cardiovascular health. Allowing your body to rest and rejuvenate can strengthen your immune system and lower the risk of developing chronic conditions like high blood pressure.
4. Watch your alcohol intake.
Limiting alcohol consumption is important during the holidays. A festive environment and frequent gatherings with family and friends may come with increased opportunities to drink alcohol, but it is important to practice moderation.
5. Pay attention to your health.
It can be tempting to disregard healthy choices during the holidays, but this can have a negative impact on your heart health. Stick to your usual schedule of taking routine medications and remember to monitor your health and how you feel. Even while traveling, it is important to pay attention to any pain or discomfort you may experience. Be sure to seek medical attention if something feels abnormal.
6. Make time for self-care.
Holiday stress can lead to overeating or feeling emotionally drained and exhausted. Look for ways to practice self-care. Taking a walk, reading a book, or catching up with an old friend are good alternatives for overeating or other unhealthy choices.
7. Stay Warm
Although cold temperatures are not often a major concern in Greater Houston, it is important to make sure you stay warm. When temperatures drop, blood vessels constrict which raises blood pressure and can place stress on your heart. Dress in warm layers to prepare for changing temperatures and avoid being outside in frigid weather.
8. Wash your hands.
Holiday season is also flu season. Wash your hands often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, to help prevent spreading germs and be sure to get a flu shot.
9. Practice fire safety.
Research shows that most residential fires happen in the winter months. Never leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency fire-safety plan and practice it regularly.
10. Stay current with well checks and health screenings.
Keep up with your regular appointments with a primary care provider. Be sure to ask which exams you need and schedule them within the recommended timeline.