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Tips for heart-healthy holiday eating

December 23, 2014

Take control of your holiday eating by planning ahead, say UCI Health heart-health experts:

  • Decide in advance what you're going to splurge on. For example, mashed potatoes and gravy can be loaded with calories, fat and salt. Instead, take smaller portions of those high-calorie items and get seconds of healthier salads or vegetables.
  • Snack wisely. While waiting for the main meal to be served, nosh on low-calorie veggies and avoid or limit fatty or salty appetizers. Catch up with family and friends. Socializing will slow down how much you eat.
  • Savor a first-course salad topped with heart-healthy leafy vegetables, sweet peppers, onions, nuts and an olive-oil based dressing. You won’t have an empty stomach when it comes time to choose your main course items.
  • Choose the leanest protein when possible. Turkey and fish are great sources of high-quality protein.
  • Avoid or limit cheese toppings, gravies and sauces, most of which are high in fat and salt.
  • Plan out your desserts. If pecan pie is your weakness, decide to have one small slice — and stick with it.
  • Don’t forget to limit your servings of holiday cheer. Calories in a glass of wine can range from 100 (for light wines) to more than 250 calories (for dessert wines); a glass of beer averages about 150 calories but can top out at more than 300 calories.

"You can have a little bit of everything as long as you limit yourself to one or two bites," says cardiologist Dr. Shaista Malik, medical director of the UCI Health Preventive Cardiology Program.

— Kristina Lindgren, UCI Health Marketing & Communications