Ten Ways to Keep Cholesterol in Check During the Holidays
Festive holiday get-togethers can sometimes bring an unwelcome gift – an abundance of opportunities to let your cholesterol go haywire. Here are 10 tips to get through the season’s parties, meals, and events while keeping your cholesterol in check.
Don’t starve yourself
Don’t go hungry all day in anticipation of party foods. Instead, eat a healthy breakfast comprised of oatmeal or whole grains. Before the party, snack on high-fiber foods like veggies and hummus or apple slices with peanut butter. The fiber will help reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream.
Make a healthy dish
If the office potluck is a buffet of creamy casseroles, offer to bring a healthy party dish that you enjoy. You’ll have a safe option to nibble on while others are piling up their plates.
Take time to socialize
Don’t be first in line at the buffet table. Grab a non-alcoholic drink so you have something in your hand. Say your hellos, take in the decorations and keep the focus off of the food.
Don’t drink your fill
A toast of holiday eggnog, a festive cocktail with a milk or cream base, or hot cocoa with a swirl of whipped cream all bring saturated fat to the party. Lean towards red wine or cocktails without sugary mixers, and don’t overdo it. Pace yourself by enjoying a glass of water in between each drink.
Make a plan
Before you take your first bite, look at what’s being served and make a plan. Start with fresh veggies and fruits that will give you something to snack on while you circulate. Look for lean proteins to satisfy hunger without glopping on fat.
Take smaller portions and be mindful of dishes with saturated fat, such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, cream, butter, and cheese. Skip the gravy and the pastry-wrapped appetizers. If you can’t pass up the dip, dot the edge of a carrot stick to get the flavor without the full-fat portion. Try just a small spoon of casserole so you get the satisfaction of the first bite without loading up on fatty cream and cheese sauces.
Use a plate instead of mindlessly picking at the party food. Hang out by the veggie tray or fruit salad, or socialize away from the appetizers. Choose the furthest chair from the buffet table. If you’re the host, send the fattening leftover party food home with your guests.
Make friends with heart-healthy foods
A handful of nuts or a salad with avocado or seeds can give you a heart-healthy boost and help you feel satisfied. Try the grilled chicken skewers or shrimp cocktail. Steam some veggies, and add a dab of healthy butter substitute, a squeeze of lemon, and dry seasonings to bring out natural flavor. Roast winter vegetables like butternut squash, or bake sweet potatoes and sprinkle them with a touch of cinnamon sugar. End your meal on a lighter note with sorbet, low-fat ice cream with raspberry sauce, or fresh fruit over angel food cake.
Exercise to help increase HDL (good) cholesterol and keep extra pounds off during the holiday feeding frenzy. Start a new tradition to help you and your loved ones stay active. Stroll through the neighborhood to see the lights. Walk around the mall and take in the holiday décor. Round-up some neighbors and go caroling.
Stop. Breathe. Take a few minutes to relax and enjoy a break from the fray. Stress leads people to comfort food, which is often rich in saturated fats or added sugar that can be bad for your heart. Elevated stress levels can also release hormones that increase cholesterol.
Remember what’s important this holiday. Take time to enjoy the company of loved ones and friends and experience the goodwill of the season. Your heart will be thankful.
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About the Author:
Julie Landry Laviolette is a longtime freelance journalist and marketing content writer who specializes in health and wellness topics for the Miami Herald, Follow her on Twitter at @JulieLavio or find her on LinkedIn.
- Blog Contributor