Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can be challenging enough all year long, but during the holiday season it can seem impossible. Festive gatherings filled with snacks and desserts can be both exciting and stressful, Memorial Hermann has the right tools and information to help you navigate the season. To learn more, please view our Heart-healthy Holidays: A Guide for the Season.

person stressed about family and holidays

Myth #1: Stress is unavoidable during the holiday season.

Fact: The season can feel fast paced and hectic, but it is important to take time to relax and recharge. Engaging in calming activities is good for your cardiovascular health and well-being. Find time for things you enjoy like reading, exercising, listening to music or talking with friends.

Big breakfast

Myth #2: Skipping meals saves calories.

Fact: It may be tempting to skip meals to “save up” to consume calories at a holiday event or party. However, skipping meals can make you hungrier and lead to overeating. Plan to eat breakfast in the morning and have a light, healthy snack before holiday events.

Salt shaker

Myth #3: Watching sodium intake is not important.

Fact: Excessive sodium consumption is linked to several cardiovascular health risks. Eating foods that are high in sodium, or adding salt to food, can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure which can lead to a range of heart-health concerns including heart attack and stroke. Make an effort to reduce your sodium intake to cut your risk of cardiovascular disease. Start by putting down the saltshaker, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and reading labels to know the sodium content.

Myth #4: It’s ok to skip exercise during the holidays.

Fact: The holidays often come with high-calorie meals, snacks and drinks that can leave you feeling tired or sluggish and not motivated to get daily exercise. Cold weather can also make you feel like staying indoors. It is important to maintain an exercise routine all year long, and especially this time of year. The holidays can disrupt normal, daily activities, so you may need to get creative to stay active. Consider using some year-end vacation days or PTO to head to the gym or take a walk outside.

moon and clouds with sleeping 'Zs'

Myth #5: You can catch up on sleep after the holidays.

Fact: Getting enough quality sleep is essential to staying healthy. The holiday season is busy, and your calendar may be more full than normal, but it is important to allow enough time for a full night’s sleep. Lack of sleep is linked to chronic health problems including heart disease, obesity and stroke. Establish a sleep routine and begin preparing about 30 minutes before you go to bed.

Glasses of alcohol

Myth #6: Consuming extra alcoholic beverages during the holidays is ok.

Fact: It can be easy to consume alcohol during holiday parties. Drinks like eggnog, punch, wine, mixed drinks and ciders may be tempting, but it is important to remember they are high in calories, sugar and salt. The American Heart Association reminds us that a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine and a 1 1/2-ounce shot of 80-proof spirits all contain the same amount of alcohol (one half ounce). Women should limit alcohol intake to one “drink equivalent” each day. Men should limit alcohol intake to one to two “drink equivalents” each day. Consider enjoying a small glass of alcohol for a holiday toast and then switch to water or another low-calorie, alcohol-free beverage.

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