Heart-Healthy Holidays: How to Celebrate Without Going Overboard

The holiday season can often be summed up in one word: indulgent. Offices are filled with gift baskets full of treats and parties are heavy on the seasonal sweets and hearty dips. While partaking in these dishes isn’t something you are doing on a daily basis, it can set you back in your diet when you are consuming more than usual.

Brook Hinton, health educator with the Weight Loss & Wellness Center at Oklahoma Heart Institute, and Susannah McCabe, registered dietitian with the Center for Diabetes Management at Hillcrest Medical Center, are sharing some helpful control strategies as well as some heart-healthy cooking alternatives for you to incorporate into your lifestyle this holiday season.

“My favorite tip is not getting to the party until after meal time,” said Hinton. “Making this plan and sticking it to will allow you to avoid the prepping and clean up portions of the night, both of which are prime times for snacking. Staying out of the kitchen is the way to go. Tell yourself that you are going to this event for the people, not for the food.”

Hinton also recommends the following:

- Have the meal catered if you are hosting

- Eat off of smaller plates

- Fill your plate with fruits and veggies

- Send leftovers home with guests

- Drink lots of water

- Limit alcohol intake

- Walk around and visit with guests during and after the meal

If you are the one preparing the food, McCabe recommends using herbs and spices rather than salt to flavor foods. Instead of butter, use tub margarine or heart-healthy oils like olive oil and canola oil.

Portion control is also something to keep top of mind. “Enjoy your favorite holiday foods in small portions,” said McCabe. “Following the rule of one third of the plate being for starches, one third of the plate being for protein and reserving the rest of the plate for fruits and vegetables is an important strategy to remember.”

Enjoy this special time of year with your loved ones and have a happy holiday season!