As we dive into another unpredictable holiday season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives for all, urges people to take time to nurture their body and mind for better overall health.
The uncertainty of the pandemic over the past several months has inadvertently disrupted many of our typical routines. As the holidays and the new year approach, it is increasingly important for individuals to reclaim habits that benefit both body and mind. Now is the time to hit the reset button and resume consistency in our daily routines, including a steadier work, school and family schedule.
To set ourselves up for success, be mindful of how you approach these changes in your daily routine. Start small by committing to something you can more readily achieve, such as eating more meals together as family. Bridget Wojciak, director of Nutrition at Kroger Health, a national sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good initiative, reminds us that when it comes to mealtime, there are plenty of clever ways to add in nourishing ingredients. She encourages us to reposition our mindset and ask ourselves what we can add to a meal instead of take away, like mixing in zucchini noodles with traditional noodles or adding in shredded vegetables to sauces or soups. Take advantage of seasonal ingredients, have fun, and be creative by experimenting with new recipes and new preparations to see what works best for your family.
Implementing more routines into your schedule, such as family meals at home or regular exercise, can not only be a good way to provide structure and clarity during busy or stressful seasons, but it is also beneficial for your physical health and helpful in managing stress.
Regardless of where you begin this journey, now is the time to make a shift towards a healthier lifestyle. The American Heart Association offers these tips for a healthier holiday season and 2022:
- Unplug to connect: This month is a great reminder to eat regular meals at home with your family. Family meals reduce stress, boost self-esteem and make the whole family feel connected. To help families have more fun at mealtime, the American Heart Association has conversation topics that are great for all ages on their website.
- Savor seasonal flavors: Draw on seasonal produce and recipe inspiration for family meals. Sign up on American Heart Association’s website to receive a free cookbook with heart-healthy, delicious recipes from the American Heart Association and Kroger Health, a national sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good initiative, which helps people create positive, lasting change in their health and well-being one step at a time
- Spend time outside: Take advantage of cooler temperatures by spending time outdoors for better physical and mental well-being. Spending time outdoors has been shown to reduce stress and improve overall mood. If you have a pet, get moving together! It’s a win-win for the health of you and your pet.
- Shop smart: Grocery shopping can be overwhelming, no matter the season. To find foods that can be part of a heart-healthy eating pattern, keep an eye out for the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark.
- Give thanks: Chronic, or constant, stress can have a negative impact on health, so it’s important to build in habits to reduce stress. One great place to start is by practicing gratitude. Write down three things you’re grateful for each day or reach out to a friend or family member and tell them how much you appreciate them.
For more tips and recipes for a healthy heart and mind, visit heart.org/eatsmartmonth