Wishing you a ‘Healthy Heart’ Holiday

By Audrey D. Jowers, MS, RD, LD, Contributing Dietician

Health care professionals utilizing Atherotech and the VAP Lipid Panel may not be aware of the Our Healthy Heart program. Available to patients nationwide, Our Healthy Heart is a personalized and confidential cardiovascular risk reduction program for patients based on their clinician’s treatment strategies.

Atherotech’s Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Educators (CREs) provide individualized lifestyle modification education to patients based upon their Atherotech-provided VAP Lipid Panel results. CREs meet with patients daily in person, on the phone or via Skype online sessions. The program is free, convenient and tailored specifically to your patient’s risk and lifestyle.

The following are helpful holiday-eating tips your patients are sure to appreciate. For more information on Our Healthy Heart, watch our YouTube video or call 1-866-827-8378.

What’s the best way to enjoy a holiday party without overindulging?
Have a plan! Eat a healthy high fiber snack before arriving at the party. Once there, look over the food choices before diving in. Avoid high calorie foods that you can live without and taste small portions of the goodies you want to enjoy. Be sure to eat off of a “small” plate and not graze around the table. This makes portion control much easier. Try to socialize away from the food table to prevent the temptation to continually pick up foods or drinks.

If I eat at home before a party will it help me avoid a calorie overload?
Most definitely! Don’t “wait” to eat your primary meal at a holiday party, as party foods are often fat, sugar and calorie laden. Eat something small that includes fiber and protein before you go to help keep you fuller through the following few hours.

Should I drink, eat or do both at parties?
You don’t want to forego enjoying all the offerings of a holiday party. However, enjoying food and beverages in moderation is key! Feel free to taste everything, but leave larger portions of the unhealthy options on the table. For beverages, opt for water or low- or no-calorie beverages such as unsweetened tea, coffee, or diet soft drinks.

Should I try to cut back on alcohol?
Consuming alcohol can make it more difficult for your body to utilize your energy (fat) stores as it takes over as the preferred energy source. However, one or two small to moderate drinks a day can be part of a healthy lifestyle – and of the holiday season. Remember to limit alcoholic beverages to one to two per day or less, maintain hydration with water and choose low or no calorie mixers.

How can I enjoy desserts during the holidays without gaining weight?
Eat desserts in moderation – instead of an entire piece of pie, cut off a small bite to taste. If you’re making desserts yourself, choose lower fat and lower sugar ingredients such as low-fat cream cheese, sugar substitute baking products, egg substitute and low-fat sour cream. The taste will be the same, but the calories, sugar and fat will be much lower.

Should I starve myself the day of a big party so I can eat at the party?
No, this will only make you eat more at the actual party. You may eat lighter throughout the day to limit calorie consumption, but try to have at least a small snack before you go so you won’t have the temptation to gorge at the holiday gathering.

What can I eat other than the veggie tray?
Anything in moderation is OK. Overeating is usually the problem at parties – not just tasting the different food choices. Try to gravitate to healthier choices (like the veggie tray) as well as lean meats, mixed nuts, fruit skewers, and dips that are bean or vegetable based.

Audrey D. Jowers, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietician and manager of the Our Healthy Heart program at Atherotech Diagnostics Lab. Contact Audrey at (205) 441-8700 or AJowers@atherotech.com.