Heart healthy Christmas tips

Posted by Natasha Russell on Thursday, December 19, 2013

10 heart healthy Christmas tips

It can be tricky to protect your health over Christmas so here are some easy to follow Christmas tips to give you some food for thought over the holiday season.

1. Be a quitter

Give up smoking and help your heart. Before Christmas, and New Year are good times to do this and with all the expense of Christmas, it's easier on your pocket too. Get tips, advice and support on how to quit smoking.

2. Get your dancing shoes on GO TO THE PARTIES!

 Keep active during the festive season and help work off the extra calories. Try going for a brisk walk at lunchtime or why not have some fun and dance away the calories at the Christmas party! Get out more ideas in our staying active section.

3. Go low

It can be difficult to avoid high-fat food choices at this time of year, but there are some healthier options you can include on the buffet table if you’re entertaining.

Healthy examples include vegetable sticks with low fat yoghurt or tomato based dips and sandwiches with lower fat fillings, like sliced egg and tomato or low fat spreadable cheese with roasted vegetables. 

4. Cut down on salt

The recommended maximum amount of salt per day for adults is 6g (or about 1 teaspoon). So go easy with the crisps, salted nuts and other nibbles. Jamaicans remember to reduce your red herring intake for Christmas morning breakfast.

It’s also worth getting into the habit of reading the food labels, such as those on pre-prepared party foods, to help you choose the healthiest options. 

5. Eat fruit

Fruit makes a great snack which can be eaten anytime of the day. Don’t head off to the work party hungry, as you are likely to be tempted by the less healthy options and may find you eat more than you normally would.

Instead, have a healthy snack beforehand such as an apple or a pear, low fat yogurt with dried fruit or a fruit smoothie which will take the edge off your hunger and helping you to make better choices.

6. Festive cheer

Keep within sensible alcohol limits which is no more than 3-4 units a day for men and no more than 2-3 units a day for women. Try alternating alcoholic drinks with water or pure, unsweetened fruit juice.

Find out more about alcohol and heart disease, and if you're recovering from a heart operation or on heart medication, check with your doctor.

Jamaican Fruit Cake and Sorrel tend to have a lot of alcohol be mindful when taking the second serving and do not forget  to be careful with the rum punch.

7. Something fishy

Oily fish like mackerel,red herring and salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which can help protect against heart disease. Salmon makes a special Boxing Day meal that offers a lighter choice after the other Christmas food and can be eaten hot or cold. 

8. Chill out

The build up to Christmas can be stressful and it can cause us to slip back into unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking and drinking more.

So take time out to relax, spend some time with friends, or go for a stroll in the park and do some level of physical activity. 

9. Keep warm

When you have a heart condition you should be careful when dealing with the cold weather .

10. Reach out

Why not join or start a support group- share your stories, get advice and meet people in similar situations.  Christmas is a great time for sharing.

Adapted from:

Managing Director, CARDIOVMEDS

I have been working in the field of Cardiology and open heart surgery since 1991. I worked first as a perfusionist, then as a cardiovascular technologist. My duties have included working in the cardiac cathetherisation lab, analysising the 24-48 hour ambulatory ECG ( holter), assisting with various diagnostic tests. I have also worked as administrator of the paediatric cardiac surgery program. Key achievements have been presentation at the Caribbean Cardiac Conference on topics such as: Diagnosing Right Ventricular Infarction : The role of the technician Familial Atrial Fibrillation (FAF) Revealed