This year, celebrate the holidays while simultaneously taking care of your health. Instead of straining your heart with unhealthy habits, learn how to make new traditions and habits that contribute to keeping you healthy and happy for years to come.

Be Aware of Those Indulgent Holiday Meals

For a lot of people, the holiday season means endless rounds of treats, both sweet and savory. Taking care of your heart health doesn’t mean depriving yourself of everything that’s tasty. The secret is to treat yourself, but only after enjoying some healthy choices. Start by filling half your plate with vegetables, either raw or cooked. Add some lean protein such as turkey breast or chicken breast. Fill in that last quarter of your plate with treats you only get to try once a year.

Need some holiday food ideas? Incorporate the below foods for a heart-healthy holiday meal:

  • Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which promotes healthy immune systems, are high in fiber, and high in potassium, which plays a role in decreasing blood pressure
  • Brussel Sprouts – Brussels sprouts are low-calorie, packed with fiber and protein and a source of Vitamin C and folic acid
  • Nuts and Grains – Nuts and whole grains, such as oatmeal, can keep holiday cookies and baked good heart-healthy when used as prime ingredients
  • Salmon – Salmon, as well as mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines contain essential omega-3 fatty acids for heart health
  • Winter Squash – Winter squash is high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and other nutrients
  • Apples – Apples are so rich in fiber they can prevent the buildup of bad cholesterol in the arteries

Monitor and Control Holiday Cheer

Check with your heart doctor about alcohol intake. If you are able to indulge, the key here is choosing a healthier alternative that’s just as tasty as unhealthy ones. Skip the eggnog and sugary cocktails and substitute with white wine, wine spritzers, or other sugar-free beverages. Be mindful of the amount of alcohol you are intaking, as well. It is okay to have an adult beverage, just as long as it is in moderation.

Keep Up with Your Workout Routine

Not only is working out beneficial to your overall health, but it can also help mask some of the stress that comes with the holiday season by releasing endorphins. You can even try switching up your routine and turn regular holiday tasks, such as shopping at the mall, into creative exercise sessions.

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, too, as your heart health is closely tied to getting enough rest every day.

If you or a loved one are living with a heart rhythm disorder such as atrial fibrillation, contact Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. Dr. Dilip Mathew is Board Certified in Cardiology & Cardiac Electrophysiology and has been serving patients in Sarasota and surrounding cities including Port Charlotte, Venice, Tampa, and Sun City Center for over a decade.