The following text was provided by the American Stroke Association:
Good eating habits can vanish from your list easily during the seasonal festivities, especially with additional stress in the mix. Special holiday events often serve up extra helpings of high-fat foods, and too many sugary or salty treats can be concern for those with high blood pressure, a risk for heart disease and stroke.
It is better to have a plan going into the holiday season to help keep you in check. The American Heart Association can help you stick to your plan with 12 tips for good heart health this holiday season. They are simple and will provide you with a great start heading into the New Year.
- Take a walk! Just 30 minutes a day can be beneficial. Break it down to 10 or 15 sessions. It’s simple and free!
- Keeping kids active is just as important as keeping yourself active. Shut off the TV and computer games and get the kids moving. They may put up a fight, but your child’s health is worth fighting for!
- Keep humor in your life. Laughter IS good medicine. Laughing quickens the pulse rate, stimulates blood circulation, activates muscles and increases oxygen intake.
- Take time for an activity you enjoy like reading, listening to music or crafts. It makes you happy and relaxes you which can reduce stress.
- Take control of portions. Most servings are well over the standard portion size. Watching your portions will cut down the waistline.
- The holidays are a time when we can be overwhelmed by all the additional activities. Admit your limitations and don’t overbook yourself. You can’t do it all!
- Not only is physical activity important for you and your family, it is important for your pet too. Go for a walk, visit a dog park or play fetch.
- When you are out shopping, don’t circle the parking lot looking for that “perfect” spot. Spare yourself the stress and gain more energy by parking far away.
- Sometimes we just don’t have time to make a healthy meal. If you grab something at a fast food restaurant – try a grilled chicken sandwich, skip the mayo and drink water. It will keep you going until you get home.
- Holiday parties can be filled with high fat and calorie appetizers. To cut back on the amount you eat, have a healthy snack before you leave the house to curb your appetite.
- To save time, do your holiday shopping on line. It gives you more time to do other things like go to the gym, take the kids to the park or just relax to reduce stress.
- If you are the party host, challenge yourself to make your menu as delicious and intriguing and heart-healthy as you can. Go to www.heart.org/gettinghealthy for tips while grocery shopping for help.
During the holiday and always, prevention is the first step in fighting cardiovascular disease. Before you can start on your path to good health, know your numbers; cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. By following a healthy eating plan and being active throughout the year, you may gain such benefits as a healthy body weight, a desirable blood cholesterol level and a normal blood pressure.
For more information on healthy living, recipes, weight and stress management, healthier kids and more, go to www.heart.org/gettinghealthy.