Holiday tips for heart health
- Fill up with healthy foods before holiday parties. “Plan out your concept so you’re not just starving yourself all day and then go to a party and gorge yourself silly,” Weinberg said.
- Toss the white rice. Bennett said brown rice or quinoa can be used instead of white rice in dishes.
- Up the veggies without the fat and starch. Zucchini or squash can be substituted for pasta and cauliflower for potatoes, said Bennett.
- Chew while you cook. “Chew sugar-free gum or chew on veggies while cooking to avoid eating a meal’s worth of calories while cooking,” Bennett said.
- Keep stress down. “Stress plays a role during the holidays too,” Bennett said. “Set a time limit on visitors. Take a walk. Enjoy a holiday movie or book, [or a] holiday coloring book. Light a comforting-smelling candle. Name three things you are grateful for. Holiday-themed puzzles are fun for the entire family.”
- Get creative with leftovers. “Share leftovers with family and friends,” said Bennett. “Use leftovers to jazz up a salad or make a soup and add more veggies. Lettuce wraps make great leftover tacos.”
- Use pineapple for baking. “The AHA article mentioned using unsweetened applesauce in baking,” said Yalvac. “I would add the ‘hack’ of substituting sugar in baking with pureed fresh pineapple. The pineapple is a natural source of sweetness — and the secret ingredient to the carrot cake my wife and I make every year.”
- Weigh yourself every day. “It is amazing what this one trick can do,” Yalvac said. “If you go for four days of partying and drinking and eating, you could end the weekend with 5 to 10 extra pounds. By weighing yourself every day, you establish a feedback loop between the food and drinks you consume and your weight. If you overdo it on Thanksgiving, and you get on the scale Friday morning to find you’ve gained 3 pounds, you’re going to hold back on that piece of pie Friday night.”
- Go for a walk after dinner. “Be sure to maintain exercise however you can get it in,” Yalvac said. “Just because you’re going to parties doesn’t mean you can’t keep moving and taking care of yourself.”