Heart Healthy Holiday Tips

Heart Health

The landslide brought me down. 

I bet you’re thinking about the Fleetwood Mac song right about now.  But the Landslide I’m referring to is the one that occurs between Halloween and New Year’s.  The time of year when we feel like we start to lose our footing as we’re thrown bite-sized chocolate bars, epic Thanksgiving day portions, and Grandma’s homemade cookies.  We can feel completely confused and sometimes defeated trying to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle but still wanting to partake in holiday festivities.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  If you’re curious about how to stop the landslide and set yourself up for a successful new year, keep reading for some helpful heart healthy holiday tips!

Reframe your Thinking

The first step to Landslide prevention is to reframe your thinking.  If you already think that you’re going to fall off the heart-healthy bandwagon, guess what? You will! Instead, I want you to add these powerful statements to your day as a mini mantra that you can tell yourself.

  1. I’m making progress towards my nutrition goals everyday.
  2. I will make the best food choices I can in the situations I’m in.
  3. I can enjoy a meal or a treat occasionally, and I’m in control of my food behaviors.

Don’t underestimate the power of your mindset! Refocus your thoughts to help rewire your thinking.  

Plan Ahead

This one, right here, is crucial. Take a look at the week or month ahead and see what you have planned.  Are you hanging out with friends on Sunday for game day or attending an ugly-sweater holiday party?  Not to fret! Acknowledge that these meals or eating occasions you might consume a little bit more then usual.  Think about what options they might have available and go in with a game plan the day of. 

Day of – Game Plan

  • DO NOT skip meals in anticipation of the main event!  This can intensify your hunger cravings turning you into a hangry monster who scours for appetizers and steals all the cheese. Don’t be a Grinch.
  • DO make sure you eat a balanced breakfast and/or lunch. This will help you feel fuller, longer.
  • DO drink water or unsweetened beverages. Often times, we mistake our thirst cues as hunger ones and eat instead. Drink water throughout the day to squash your thirst.
  • DO bring a nutritious dish! This ensures you know there is at least one healthful option that will be on the table.
  • DO NOT forgo a special event because you feel like you won’t be able to choose healthful foods.  Missing out on experiences with family and friends > one unbalanced dinner.
Meal Tips

Baste instead of Brine.  Brining the turkey which means soaking the turkey in a water/sodium solution for 12-24 hours means that the turkey will absorb some of the salt. Approximately 4oz. of poultry absorbs between 150mg and 260mg after 12 to 24 hours, respectively.  Add herbs or dry rub to the turkey and baste to add moisture and flavor.

Prepare more homemade sides instead of commercially prepared buys: The amount of sodium recommended for an entire day can be found in 1 Thanksgiving meal.  However, by making some tweaks to your holiday favorites, you can cut down on the salt and still keep the flavor! Try making your own homemade gravy, use unsalted butter and less of it, and add other herbs and spices in place of salt. 

Divide and Conquer: Fill half your plate with veggies, 1/4 of your plate with turkey, 1/4 of your plate with starchy carbs like your stuffing and mashed potatoes. Adding in protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fat can help to balance your blood sugar.

Careful with the Casseroles: Green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and corn casseroles can make delicious, layered dishes. However, they can also be higher in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.  Opt for a smaller helping if you’d like to try it.  

Lighten Up Dessert: Can you enjoy dessert while following a heart-healthy lifestyle? Absolutely! Choose a small cake plate instead of a large paper plate so you’re less likely to fill the entire plate.  Have a few cookies or choose a small piece of your favorite pie.  

What’s your favorite heart-healthy holiday tip? Share it in the comments below!


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