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Wellness Wednesday: Staying healthy during the holidays

Posted at 8:27 AM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 10:27:59-05

BOISE, Idaho — The holidays are here and with it comes all the temptations of salty, sweet, and fatty foods, but there are ways you can avoid the naughty list and still have fun this season.

Back in 1978, doctors coined the term 'holiday heart syndrome' to describe the drastic increase in patients going to the emergency room with complaints of irregular heart rhythms--a.k.a. atrial fibrillation--during the holidays. AFiB can create a "fluttering" feeling in the heart and often comes with other symptoms like lightheadedness or shortness of breath.

Specialists believe salty, fatty foods, holiday stress, and not getting enough sleep contribute to holiday heart syndrome, along with excessive alcohol consumption by some holiday party participants. Those temptations, combined with a decreased motivation to go exercise, can lead to a risk of AFiB or have an effect on your waistline.

There are ways to avoid holiday heart syndrome. First, don't skip any meals during the holiday season. Our bodies are used to routine, and it can hurt them to try and skip a meal to skimp on calories. Skipping a meal can lead to overeating later so remember to eat breakfast or get a snack so you can have a solid protein or fiber in your daily intake. Keep a water bottle handy as well to make sure you're staying hydrated.

If you're hosting a holiday gathering, there are ways to help your guests avoid overindulging during the season as well. Plan out your menu and table strategically by making smaller portions and setting out individual servings instead of displaying a whole pie or a whole cake. That encourages people to grab one or two slices rather than being intimidated by an entire dessert where they can cut too much at one time.

Vegetables always make a good side during your holiday dinners. Make sure to look for colorful fruits and veggies during winter to ensure you're getting all the vitamins you need, even at the holidays. Dried fruits and other items, like shredded coconut, can be used to decorate holiday treats versus more sugary products.

You'll also want to make sure you're keeping up with your sleep and exercise routines. Bundle up and head outside for a walk with the family after dinner or play games that encourage you to get up and move or even dance.

For more recipes this holiday season, check out the Albertsons website. You can also find more simple tips from Blue Cross of Idaho on staying healthy here.