The holiday season is the perfect time for catching up with friends and family. And where there is a gathering of loved ones, there is also delicious holiday cooking. Unfortunately, excessively partaking in the holiday food festivities could not only pack on the pounds during the winter months -– it could sabotage your efforts to keep your cholesterol levels in check. These helpful tips will ensure that you keep your cholesterol levels healthy during the holidays -– and still enjoy your favorite foods during the season:
Bring a healthy dish.
If the occasion is a potluck, why not bring a healthy, low-fat dish? Not only will you be contributing a delicious plate of food to the party –- you are also contributing a low-fat, healthy treat that everyone can enjoy. Looking for some ideas? Why not try some of these cholesterol-friendly recipes to bring to your next holiday affair:
- Delicious, Low-Fat Dips, Appetizers and Salads
- Heart-Healthy Desserts
- New Years’ Eve, Low-Cholesterol Party Foods
Start off with a salad.
Whether you are attending a potluck or attending a formal holiday dinner affair, salad will usually be on the menu. Salads are chock-full of cholesterol-friendly ingredients, such as veggies, nuts, and, in some cases, fruits. Be careful regarding how much salad dressing you pour onto your salad –- especially if the dressing is cream-based. Starting off with a light salad will ensure that you are filling up on healthy food, and not on fattening foods that can raise your cholesterol.
Limit your appetizers and finger foods.
Not all appetizers and finger foods are bad. In fact, some of these delicious treats can be down-right healthy, especially if you are selecting appetizers that contain fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other low-fat foods. The problem with these foods is that you can forget how many of these bite-sized foods you have consumed, especially if you are holding a conversation with a cousin you haven’t seen in five years and steadily sampling appetizers at the same time. Before you know it, you have consumed an entire plate of these finger-sized foods, which can add calories and fat to your daily food intake.
If you are prone to going overboard even with the healthiest of appetizers, just take a few items and place them on a separate plate instead of lingering near the main tray containing these foods. Of course, you can always go back for more, but also make sure you save room for the main courses.
Watch what you eat.
Being careful about eating foods high in calories, saturated fat, and refined sugars is an important part of following a cholesterol-lowering diet. However, this especially becomes important if the function you are attending is a self-service buffet or a more formal luncheon or dinner that has many meal courses. It can be quite easy to load your plate with the wrong types of foods. Here are some examples of food items you should limit or avoid during your meal, since they can be sources of added fat and/or refined sugars:
- Fried foods
- Fatty cuts of meats, such as beef, pork, and steak
- Cakes, pies and other pastries
- Foods heavily coated in butter or gravy
- Cream-based sauces
You should also be sure to watch the portions of foods you are eating. Even healthy foods can become bad for you when you are consuming heaping portions of them at one sitting.
A huge temptation after having a large dinner is to sit on the couch and doze. Instead of doing this, why not fit a little exercise? Whether it is cycling, a brisk walk after your meal, or window shopping at your favorite mall, any type of exercise can help keep you energized and burn calories. Additionally, getting exercise can help keep your cholesterol levels -– and your heart –- healthy.