Salt is one of the most significant concerns in a holiday meal. Too much sodium can send blood pressure skyrocketing as the heart overworks to dispel it. It adversely affects your kidneys, arteries, and brain.
Avoid this by using spices instead of salt to flavor your turkey. Serve sauces on the side. Consider alternative dishes that are low in sodium but high in other flavors. Take smaller portions of your favorite "must have" items.
The holidays can be especially taxing on elderly or chronically ill family members. Unusual schedules, unhealthy food choices, and the stress of traveling to family gatherings can have an impact on overall health.
Avoid this by tailoring your menu to those with special nutritional needs. Keep your meals well-balanced with plenty of healthy options. Be considerate of the timing of meals. Send leftovers home with those who may not be able to cook a nutritious meal for themselves every day.
Enjoying a drink or two while catching up with loved ones is ok, especially if it's heart-healthy red wine.
Avoid heavy cocktails, like eggnog, to reduce your fat and calorie intake. Always designate a driver. Drink water between cocktails to stay hydrated and reduce the chance of over-consumption. Pour yourself smaller portions than usual.
The average person gains 5-7 lbs. during the holiday season!
Avoid this by monitoring your weight and setting realistic expectations. Make healthy food choices at parties and in the office. Incorporate healthy food items into your holiday potluck spread. Give a gift of fruits and nuts, rather than chocolate and sugar. As much as possible, avoid lard, butter, and salt. Enjoy special treats in moderation.
The holidays can also bring around stress, anxiety and depression. Traveling to see family, busy schedules, financial strain, and contentious personalities can lead to difficult situations. Overeating and emotional outbursts can happen.
Avoid this by getting outside! Take a brisk walk and enjoy the fresh air. Give the precious gift of time, rather than money. Schedule down time for yourself and practice mindfulness amid the chaos.
The gift of time is one of the most important things you can give to your loved ones and yourself.
This holiday season, plan ahead to spend quality time with those you hold dear. It doesn't have to be expensive - a board game, an easy hike, or a classic movie will leave you feeling more fulfilled than you may realize. Slow down and prioritize where you want to be, both physically and emotionally, this year. Commit to maintaining a healthy balance and you'll feel more relaxed, present, and content.
Thanks to Dr. Priya Radhakrishnan for contributing her medical expertise to this holiday health hazards article.