From November to January, it’s easy to get off track with our eating habits, thanks to family and holiday gatherings. For individuals with high cholesterol, however, maintaining a cholesterol friendly diet is particularly important.
Yazid Fadl, MD, MPH, Indiana University Health cardiologist, says, “Around the holidays, we tend to let ourselves go, and that’s the absolute worst thing you can do if you have a heart condition, high cholesterol, or blood pressure problems. In a single month, you can eat all the wrong things at once, putting significant stress on your body.”
- Watch stress levels. Especially in light of the pandemic, almost everyone is dealing with more stress than usual, and the holidays tend to aggravate stress – leading us to turn to fatty or sugary comfort foods. Not just that, but stress itself can increase levels of cholesterol. Take ample time for relaxing activities, journaling, talking with friends, and being intentional with regards to the food choices.
- Do not skip meals. Sometimes during the holidays, people choose to bypass breakfast to “save room” for a large holiday meal. Alternatively, it’s healthier to begin the day with a nutritious breakfast and eat smaller meals with greater frequency through the course of the day, as opposed to gorging on a single large dinner.
- Make sensible beverage choices. Hot cocoa, eggnog, alcoholic beverages – many popular holiday drink options are unhealthy for the heart. If you don’t want to forego festive drinks, partake in moderation, choosing mainly sparkling or plain water instead.
- Limit cheesy dishes. As stated by Joan Salge Blake, RD, clinical associate professor at Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, cheese is typically the number one supply of heart-unhealthy saturated fat for Americans.
- Get moving. Exercise helps increase good cholesterol (HDL), which protects the heart, in addition to helping with maintaining a proper BMI. Older adults should be sure to check with a doctor before starting or changing any physical exercise plan, but exercise is necessary for all ages and ability levels.
For more resources and tips to help the older adults you love maintain heart health, contact Absolute Companion Care. We are also happy to plan and prepare nourishing meals, provide transportation to physician appointments and exercises classes, offer friendly companionship to brighten each day and reduce stress, and so much more.