Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Is your ideal Thanksgiving plate piled with turkey, mashed potatoes, a mound of stuffing, and creamy casseroles? Unfortunately, with a menu like that, this holiday is known for meals that are filled with fat, sugar, and sodium–all things that are bad for your heart. 

How do you enjoy Thanksgiving dinner without putting your health at risk? Take a look at some heart-healthy tips before you indulge.

Create a Heart-Healthy Food Strategy

Write down the different types of food you expect to see on the dinner table and ways to cut back on the cholesterol. A couple of different ways you can do this is by:

  • Using low-fat chicken broth as gravy
  • Skipping the butter on your veggies. If you need to add flavor, try vinegar instead
  • Removing the skin from your turkey
  • Using whole grain bread for the stuffing
  • Using low-fat milk instead of canned soup in green bean casserole
  • Adding a natural sugar to the cranberry sauce instead of refined sugar
  • Applesauce instead of butter and oil
  • Low-fat milk instead of heavy cream
  • Whole wheat flour instead of white flour

If you are a guest at someone else’s dinner table, you can bring some of your own supplies. Also ask the host to make some adjustments when cooking, such as leaving the butter off of certain items.

Go Green

Once it is time to eat, start with something green. Ideally, you’ll have a healthy salad before the main meal. If there is no salad, then fill your plate with veggies first. Once you eat them, you can move on to some of the richer foods like mashed potatoes or mac and cheese. You’ll likely be getting full at this point which will help you resist the urge to get seconds on the less healthy items. 

Manage Your Food Choices and Portion Sizes

Make a point of taking a little bit of everything instead of large portions of just a few things. It’s a choice that will not only expand your palette, but it will help fill you up quickly.

Take a Break

Take frequent breaks from eating, so you can get up and stretch your legs. If possible, walk the stairs for a few minutes or go outside and enjoy the beautiful Florida air.

Make Water a Priority

If you are enjoying holiday drinks, match each with a glass of water. If you are the host, make sure each place setting has a full glass of water. Place a pitcher of water nearby for refills, too.

Don’t Let the Holidays Overwhelm You 

As busy as the holidays are, it’s still important that you take the time to relax and unwind every day. Choose a 20-minute space once or twice a day and use it to indulge in some relaxing meditation. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep as well as it is closely tied to your heart health.

If you or a loved one are living with a heart rhythm disorder such as atrial fibrillation, or simply have questions about your heart health, contact Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. Our practice has been serving patients in Sarasota and surrounding cities including Port Charlotte, Venice, Tampa, and Sun City Center for over a decade.