The holiday season is synonymous with indulgence. Tables groan under the weight of rich foods and decadent desserts, and while our taste buds might be thanking us, our hearts could be feeling the strain. Here’s how you can navigate the festive period with heart health in mind, ensuring that you celebrate without compromising on flavor or fun.
Start with Smarter Appetizers
Skip the dairy-laden dips and pastry-wrapped snacks. Opt for fresh vegetables with hummus, fruit skewers, or shrimp cocktail. These lighter appetizers can curb hunger and help you avoid overeating when the main course arrives.
Choose Your Main Course Wisely
Lean meats such as turkey or chicken are excellent choices for a heart-healthy main course. If you’re preparing the meal, roast or grill the meat rather than frying it. For vegetarian or vegan guests, consider a heart-healthy centerpiece like a quinoa-stuffed butternut squash.
Rethink Your Sides
Instead of creamy casseroles or buttery mashed potatoes, why not try sides that are just as tasty but much better for your heart? Think roasted vegetables tossed in olive oil and herbs, steamed green beans, or a vibrant, crunchy salad.
Use Herbs and Spices for Flavor
Salt is often a go-to for adding flavor, but it’s not the best friend to your heart. Experiment with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and basil, or spices such as garlic powder, smoked paprika, and cumin to pack your dishes with flavor without the added sodium.
Desserts are a holiday staple, but that doesn’t mean they have to be laden with sugar and fat. Fresh fruit, especially when it’s in season, is naturally sweet and full of heart-healthy fiber. If you can’t resist baking, use substitutes like applesauce for sugar or ripe bananas for butter.
Portion Control Is Key
Remember, you can enjoy almost any food if you keep your portions small. Use a smaller plate to help control the amount of food you eat, and resist the urge to go back for seconds immediately.
Listen to Your Body
Eat slowly and savor every bite. It takes time for your brain to get the message that you’re full, so eating slowly can help prevent overindulgence.
Incorporate some physical activity into your day. A family walk or a game of touch football before the meal can be a fun way to keep everyone active and counteract some of those extra calories (don’t forget to wear your Wellows!).
By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure that your holiday meals are delicious, joyous, and heart-healthy. Cheers to a fun, festive and delicious holiday season!