Your cholesterol and special occasions: Staying on track

Posted at 4:58 PM, Dec 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-15 18:58:12-05

If you're trying to improve your cholesterol and you have a special occasion coming up, you might be anxious. Whether your weakness is cheese-laden appetizers, the buffet table, fizzy drinks or mom's apple pie — holidays and family gatherings can make it challenging to keep up a healthy lifestyle. This can affect your weight and cholesterol.

But a special occasion doesn't have to derail your hard work. Staying confident in your ability to succeed and planning for how you'll handle temptation can help you stay on track.

Develop a strategy

Special occasions often involve platters of indulgent foods. To avoid overeating:

·       Eat a small, healthy snack before the big meal. The longer you go without eating, the more you tend to eat.

·       Spend time visiting. You'll eat less and connect with family and friends.

·       Take a plate and move away from the buffet table to avoid taking extra servings.

·       Decide in advance how much you will eat, and stick with it.

Make healthy choices

Eating healthy at a gathering doesn't mean you can eat only carrot sticks. To keep your calories in check and still get a taste of your favorite dessert:

·       Fill up on healthy fare first. Fresh fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrients — as long as you don't smother them with heavy sauce or gravy.

·       Remove the skin and fat from poultry or other meat before you eat it.

·       Enjoy smaller portions of high-calorie treats. For example, you might find that a taste of pumpkin pie is all you need to satisfy your craving.

·       Don't drink your calories. Alcoholic and sugar-sweetened beverages are heavy on calories and light on nutrients. Instead, consider unsweetened coffee or tea. Drinking a glass of ice water, which has no calories, will help you feel full.

·       Offer to bring healthy fare. One option low in saturated fat is angel food cake with a side of fresh berries.

Stay active

·       Look for ways to be active, before, during or after the celebration. For example:

·       Suggest ways that a holiday or celebration could involve physical activity. Not all special occasions have to revolve around big meals. Walk together to a parade. Have your reunion at a park and bring some simple lawn games, such as bocce ball.

·       After the holiday meal play an active video game, organize a game of flag football or go for a group walk.

·       Set aside time before or after the event for exercise. If you're staying with family, take a run before the festivities begin. If you're at a hotel, make time to go to the gym