Healthy eating during the holidays can be a real challenge from November to January, as it’s easy to lose track of our dietary habits during family and holiday gatherings. For anyone with high cholesterol, however, making healthy food choices is very important.
Yazid Fadl, MD, MPH, Indiana University Health cardiologist, says, “Around the holidays, we tend to let ourselves go, and that’s the absolute worst thing you can do if you have a heart condition, high cholesterol, or blood pressure problems. In a single month, you can eat all the wrong things at once, putting significant stress on your body.”
- Watch stress levels. Especially in light of the pandemic, nearly everyone is going through more stress than usual, and the holiday season frequently exacerbates stress – causing us to turn to fatty or sugary comfort foods. Not only that, but stress itself can increase cholesterol levels. Set aside time for journaling, relaxing activities, speaking with friends, and being intentional about food choices.
- Do not skip meals. Very often during the holidays, people opt to skip breakfast to “save room” for a large holiday meal. Instead, it’s far healthier to begin the day with a well-balanced breakfast and eat smaller sized meals with greater frequency during the course of the day, instead of overindulging on a single large meal.
- Make sensible beverage choices. Eggnog, alcoholic beverages, hot cocoa – many common holiday drink choices are not healthy for the heart. In the event that an older loved one doesn’t want to forego festive drinks, encourage having them in moderation, selecting mainly plain or sparkling water instead.
- Limit cheese intake. According to Joan Salge Blake, RD, clinical associate professor at Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, cheese is the leading source of heart-unhealthy saturated fat for Americans.
- Get moving. Exercise helps increase good cholesterol (HDL), which protects the heart, in addition to helping maintain a proper BMI. Older adults need to be sure to speak with a doctor prior to starting or changing any physical activity regimen, but exercise is important for all ages and ability levels.
For more resources and tips to help the seniors you love maintain heart health, get in touch with the aging care team at At Home Care Company. We’re also happy to provide transportation to medical appointments and exercises classes, offer friendly companionship to brighten each day and reduce stress, and so much more.