Undoubtedly, managing high blood pressure can be a major struggle. (1) Significant changes are made to nutrition and lifestyle habits. However, the holiday season brings its own unique issues when working to manage your high blood pressure. Three common triggers can increase blood pressure levels and cause problems. These three triggers are high-sodium foods, excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, and increased stress. Combine these factors, and you have a recipe for disaster. So today, let’s discuss some habits you can focus on implementing this holiday season to help you maintain your high blood pressure.
3 Easy Management Tips
Many triggers that contribute to increased blood pressure levels and cause symptoms to appear are abundant during the holiday season. From high-sodium foods such as turkey and processed meats. To holiday cocktails and alcoholic beverages. Not to mention the fact that the holidays can be a stressful time of the year for many reasons. Making simple and minor little tweaks this holiday can increase your enjoyment of the season while keeping your blood pressure in check.
1. Beware High Sodium Foods
Foods such as heavily processed and cured meats and store-bought meats such as turkey and ham can contain high amounts of sodium. Think Honeybaked Ham and Boston Market. Decrease consumption of these meats or opt for smaller portions. Also, take the initiative and speak with the host or hostess regarding your dietary needs before the holiday feast. This way, they know ahead of time what your unique dietary restrictions are and can support you by creating healthier dishes or dishes specifically for you.
If you’re preparing and cooking the holiday feast, choose fresh turkey or ham you purchase from the local meat market. This way, you avoid the extra sodium and flavorings used to season and flavor the meat when you buy it from a store. You can create low-sodium options for a variety of sides and dishes as well, such as gravy and sauces.
2. Watch Your Alcohol Consumption
This can be tricky, so following your doctor’s orders regarding alcohol consumption should be your first step. Keep in mind that no solid evidence links alcohol consumption to decreasing or lowering blood pressure levels. (2) So proceed with caution regarding alcoholic beverages and high blood pressure. If your doctor says, it’s OK to consume alcoholic beverages in moderation, drinking 1-2 cocktails or beverages during dinner or the holiday gathering should be fine. Also, look for non-alcoholic alternatives such as low-sugar party punches or non-alcoholic wines and beer.
3. Manage Stress Levels
Having family over and planning a holiday feast or soiree can cause stress levels to rise. Especially if your family has unique and, shall we say, challenging personalities. Staying on top of how you manage that stress can help you manage your blood pressure levels. Continue following an exercise regimen even if you have to modify and decrease the days or amount of time you spend exercising. Something is better than nothing. Not only will maintaining a fitness regimen help with managing stress it will also help you to manage and maintain your weight during the holiday season.
Another way to manage stress is to set clear boundaries and expectations with family and friends. For example, don’t overextend yourself and try to attend all the parties or do everything. Instead, schedule how you spend your time and what events are important to you and your family. This way, you focus on what matters the most to you, and you’re not pulling yourself in too many directions. Also, creating a set spending budget for the holidays and sticking to it will decrease financial worries and strains.
General Considerations to Keep in Mind
The above tips will help you manage your blood pressure during the holiday season. Make sure you’re making wise choices as you would during any other time of year, and keep your health and well-being in mind. Speaking honestly with family members and hosts about your dietary needs and restrictions. Taking the time to suggest or make healthy tweaks to traditional holiday dishes. (3) Also, make sure you monitor your blood pressure regularly so that if you notice any spikes, you can adjust your nutrition accordingly. Remember, the holidays are not only about the food. They are about spending quality time with family, friends, and loved ones.