If you were to compare your cholesterol reading right after the holidays in January and in the middle of the summer, which number do you wager would be higher? If your answer is “January’s,” listen for the game show “ding-ding-ding.”
A 25,000-subject Danish study confirmed this, noting that cholesterol levels were up by a significant 20% after seasonal indulging in fatty food and drink, as opposed to the participants’ June readings. If you battle high cholesterol, you want to make sure to enter this holiday season well-armed.
Dr. Gurprit Sekhon and the team at Nu Wave Medical Center prioritize getting your cholesterol under control and well-managed, as it so strongly impacts your overall health, especially your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Since Dr. Sekhon partners with you in your care, she prioritizes educating you about the steps you can take to keep your cholesterol numbers looking good and steady — even throughout the holiday season, where she knows temptations seem to lurk around every corner!
Cholesterol isn’t just a single number
Cholesterol is a multiple-numbers game, as there are numbers assigned to LDL and VLDL (the “bad” kinds of cholesterol) and HDL (the “good cholesterol) levels. Keeping everything in balance takes some doing, but with Dr. Gurprit’s expert guidance, you can stay on top of your cholesterol no matter what time of year it is.
The best things you can do to keep your cholesterol stable during the holiday season
Dr. Gurprit devised a list of the six most impactful, yet doable strategies you can enact to ensure your cholesterol doesn’t go off the rails in this season of parties, potatoes and gravy, and copious amounts of cookies.
1. Create a colorful plate
You’ve likely heard that a so-called “rainbow plate,” with many fruits and vegetables, is the way to go if you want to build a healthy nutritional foundation. Before you head to the buffet table, make the decision to create a plate where the majority of its real estate is taken up with things like crudites or salad, vegetable soup, and holiday charcuterie favorites like nuts and dried fruit.
These foods are filling and tasty, and don’t pose the cholesterol-raising risks that saturated fat-laden dishes (think gravies and sauces), cheesy fondues and buttery cookies do.
2. Keep moving
Don’t let winter’s cold temps keep you from working out. A brisk walk or bike ride, done most days, does the trick, but other good winter options include online workouts you can do inside or even invest in a stationary bicycle. The point is to make exercise easy and fun.
3. Substitute, substitute, substitute
You can partake in a scrumptious holiday meal, just like everyone else — you just have to make some wise and healthy tweaks.
For example, choose white instead of dark turkey meat (and take that skin off!), skip the squash casserole and choose roasted, season squash instead (equally delicious), and go for a beverage of bubbly water mixed with a bit of fruit juice instead of heavy eggnog. We promise you’ll feel satisfied but your cholesterol won’t suffer.
4. Stay accountable
Enlist the help of a family member or friend who you know has your best interests in mind. You can make a pact to make healthy choices before you go to the party or attend a holiday meal and have someone you can get encouragement from if you feel like you’re faltering.
5. Don’t skimp on your medication
If you take prescription medication for your high cholesterol, this is not the time to skip or put off taking it. Follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding the timing and dosing of your medication, and follow it to the letter, even if a long day of work, Christmas shopping, and decorating the house leaves you tired. It just takes a minute, and consistency is crucial.
6. Keep stress at bay
Studies have shown a link between stress and high cholesterol, and if there’s ever a time of the year where you’re trying to pack too much into each day — and night — it’s November through January.
Fortunately, stress management techniques are relaxing, like taking a yoga class or sitting in your bedroom and meditating for 20 minutes. They can also be fun, like taking in a hilarious movie or enjoying coffee with a good friend. Even a series of deep breaths in the middle of a busy time of day can help.
Handling your stress effectively can help you manage your cholesterol and feel better overall since your emotional and spiritual health are absolutely interwoven with your physical health.
Feel confident about your cholesterol
Call our office to set up an annual physical exam, where Dr. Gurprit will measure your cholesterol, or if you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol already, learn what you can do to keep it at a healthy level. You can make an appointment by reaching out to us on our website as well.