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Here’s how to stay heart healthy during Christmas and winter holidays

Planning for a special dinner with friends, keep your lunch lighter.

By Arooshi Garg,

Festivals and foods have a special relation. Especially in India where each festival is marked by some traditional food speciality that we look forward to every year. This Christmas will make it hard to be heart healthy between cookie exchanges and family gatherings. However, surely, we can be more mindful, which would prevent health issues, stress and guilt later on.

Christmas treats indeed tend to be high in sugar, salt and oil. All these are dangerous ingredients for good heart health. So, this time deal the food zone smartly by following the below tips:

Opt for smaller portion sizes– This can help you prevent overeating of any food and reduce a substantial number of extra calories. Don’t limit yourself to diet food, eat – but in moderation. Don’t eat everything that comes your way. Choose your favourite foods in a party and stick to limited portions.

Don’t overdo alcohol– Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach may create a lot of health issues. Set limits and stick to them. Avoid fried snacks with drinks. Opt for healthier versions like sangria for better heart health.

Eat mindfully-Planning for a special dinner with friends, keep your lunch lighter. Choose foods which are grilled, baked or sautéed. Rather than going for starchy and oily snacks like fries which are high in trans fats linked to plaque deposition, opt for fibre rich snacks like hara-bhara kebab, grilled soya chaap or paneer tikka. Making these small mindful changes in your eating pattern can keep off heart health issues.

Choose low salt and sugar foods- Avoid too many bakery products like cookies, biscuits, crackers. All these are hidden sources of excess sugars and salts which can lead to high blood pressure and cardiac problems. Go for homemade namkeen made with riceflakes or puffed rice. Choose sweets made with natural sugars like dates or jaggery.

Omega 3-Omega-3 fatty acids reduce bad cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (ie, good cholesterol) levels. Choosing walnuts, flaxseeds, berries, grilled fish or guacamole dip as snacks can be a perfect blend of ingredients required to keep unhealthy calories off your plate.

Stay hydrated- Dehydration can stress your heart. Pledge to drink 8-10 glasses of water. Go for green tea, herbal teas, fresh vegetable juices or or flavoured water made with soaking lemon wedges, tulsi leaves or mint leaves overnight in a jug of water.

Reduce tea/coffee/cold drinks- Tea and coffee add a considerable number of hidden calories and excess caffeine through the day. Mindfully cutting down your usual cuppa in festive season can help you enjoy your favourite regional meals in moderation. Excess tea/coffee can cause dehydration, anxiety or trouble in sleeping.

Detox once a week- Although this is not an excuse to eat unhealthy through the week. Eating raw meals once a week can help in better metabolism and giving rest to the digestive system. Opt for fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, soups, smoothies to detox and rejuvenate your internal organs. Red, yellow and orange veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, are packed with carotenoids, polyphenols, fiber and vitamins which keep your cardiac health intact.

Eat something before you head out- Snacking on a bowl of oats, mixing sprouts or homemade yogurt with nuts, seeds can help you prevent gorging on food as soon as you reach a party and will help you eat mindfully and not out of hunger.

Exercise- Even if you cannot go to the gym, ensure that you at least go for a walk. A 30 minute fast walk can help you get good cardio activity to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and improve energy levels, plus it can fight weight gain to improve overall cardiac health. If you are still unable to find time for dedicated exercise, make it a habit to walk for 10 minutes post every meal. Finding small pockets of time for cardiovascular fitness in the form of walking can really be helpful.

(The author is Lifestyle Expert Coach at GOQii. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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