This time of year includes gatherings of friends and family, gift-giving, and holiday traditions. But it can also bring some challenges. Holiday parties are full of sugary treats, fried appetizers, high-sodium snacks, and festive cocktails.
For seniors trying to limit sodium intake and control high blood pressure, the holidays can be a real challenge. Indulging too much can put your health at risk.
So how can you enjoy the season’s festivities while sticking to a heart-healthy diet?
We have a few suggestions we hope are useful.
Tips to Enjoy a Heart-Smart Holiday Season
- Plan ahead: Look at your schedule for the entire week on Sunday evening and thoughtfully plan your meals. If you have a holiday potluck for lunch one day, for example, try to plan extra healthy meals for breakfast and dinner that day. If you will be dining out at a local restaurant with friends one night, review the menu online at home. Most restaurants list ingredients, fat, sodium, and calorie counts for their entrées.
- Exercise every day: The hustle and bustle of the holidays might make this seem tough to do, but exercising during a time you might be tempted to overindulge is too important to skip. Most fitness experts recommend doing it first thing in the morning so that you don’t make up an excuse for skipping your workout later in the day.
- Drink plenty of water: High blood pressure and alcohol are not a good mix. The American Heart Association recommends men limit drinks to two per day and women to one. Sodium-heavy sodas aren’t any better. Sparkling water or water with fruit are the best festive drinks for holiday parties.
- Watch the appetizers: Holiday partygoers often think that if they skip dessert and limit themselves to appetizers, they are making a heart-smart decision. Unfortunately, that usually isn’t the case. Appetizers can be as high as or higher than desserts in fat, calories and sodium. In general, you should try to avoid cheese, mixed drinks, mulled wines, eggnog, fried foods, and anything with dips, sauce, or gravy.
- Eat at home first: The advice we’ve all heard from health experts many times holds true no matter what the celebration. You lower your risk of overindulging if you eat a healthy meal before you head out to a party. When you feel full, you will be less likely to indulge in tasty-looking treats.
- Monitor your blood pressure: Another way to ensure you stick with a healthy routine is to commit to monitoring and documenting your blood pressure. Talk with your doctor for advice about how many times a week you should take your blood pressure during the holidays. Knowing your numbers can help you stay on track with your nutrition and exercise goals.
Heart-Smart Diet at Sunrise Senior Living
We know that food choices are an important part of aging well. The Sunrise dining program makes it easy for residents to eat healthy without sacrificing taste!
Source: Sunrise Senior Living