One thing many of us have in common is that, once the holidays come around, our healthy habits tend to go on vacation. While enjoying holiday meals with your friends and family may not put you over your ideal healthy weight, the overconsumption of hidden sugars, sodium and saturated fats that make their way into our foods can certainly cause other unhealthy side effects.
Here’s how some of the ingredients that are hidden in your holiday foods can affect your health – followed by some good advice for staying well this season.
- Sugar – Short-term side effects of sugar include headaches, stomach aches, fatigue and increased heart rate. Consuming high levels of sugar over a period of time can overload the liver and affect your insulin and leptin levels, leading to metabolic dysfunction and the development of heart, kidney and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
- Sodium – Increased blood pressure and decreased elasticity of the blood vessels are two major side effects of high-sodium levels. This effect on the blood vessels increases a person’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease and stroke later down the road. Sodium is necessary to keep your muscles and nerves functioning, but too much can cause swelling due to water retention and chronic thirst.
- Saturated Fat – Raised low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels can cause high blood pressure and increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. These saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as red meat and milk, as well as certain cooking oils. Diets high in saturated fat have been linked to a variety of conditions, including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.
Find Balance This Holiday
Just because it’s called a “veggie casserole” doesn’t mean it’s a healthy alternative, but just because it’s not healthy doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a bite or two. Balance is an important part of life, and one way you can balance your holiday meal is by including several lighter dishes into the mix. We’ve picked three great recipes: classic cornbread dressing, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and sage, and buttermilk pralines.
You can find these delicious recipes along with a wealth of other health information by visiting our site at EastOrlandoMedicalGroup.com. Trust us, your family will love these nutritious and delicious holiday treats!
Drs. Steven Attermann and Eugene Chambers have been serving the Central Florida area for over 30 years. They provide a full range of primary care services in their East Orlando office, including acute and chronic illness management, elder care, immunizations, minor injury care, women and men’s healthcare, and FAA Flight Medical Services. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit EastOrlandoMedicalGroup.com or call (407) 917-0552.