Having good fun during the holiday season? Tomorrow is New Year and without doubt many of you would be gearing up for the midnight party bash in full frenzy. This is the time of the year when each of us are overloaded with cheesy cream cakes, plum cakes, rich dishes and thick desserts that still linger in our minds from the joyous Christmas party and we look forward to a grand entry into another great year with pompous celebration. Holidays indeed are for fantabulous fun with family and friends alongside yummy dishes that gratify our heart. The butter cookies, roasted chicken and more entrapped with fat, salt and sugar can surely make each of us overindulge in the vast array of dishes. Oh, we have not yet introduced the main element of parties and celebrations these days-our favourite booze that’s often advertised to be available aplenty in any of the parties. This deadly combination of fats, salt and booze can lead to what we term now as the ‘holiday heart syndrome’.
Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be?
Holiday Heart Syndrome is a term that was first used in the year 1978 to describe the patients whose numbers rapidly increased during the holiday season admitted for irregular heart rhythms called as atrial fibrillation or AFib. Festive seasons witness the absence of numerous physicians at hospitals as all of us indeed need a break from our hectic work schedule but it’s also the time when a greater number of people are admitted for several reasons. For instance, Diwali is the time of year when hospitals witness more cases of fire-related burns than any other time; wedding seasons bring about ample food poisoning cases that’s relevant to the meals served at marriage ceremonies and now, we have this syndrome that’s the result of overconsumption of food and alcohol.
Atrial fibrillation is nothing but a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can result in blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Most people describe the feeling as though the heart skips a beat, bangs against the chest wall or flutters rapidly in the chest and this is mostly accompanied by lightheadedness, shortness of breath and chest pain. AFib puts the individual at a 5-fold increased risk of stroke and doubles the risk of heart-related deaths. So, while holiday heart syndrome can affect a perfectly normal individual with no heart problems it poses even greater risk to those with existing heart disease. In general, consumption of alcohol poses a threat to heart health and overconsumption during the holiday season increase the risk of atrial fibrillation in holiday heart syndrome that can also lead to release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Holidays typically revolve around good food that’s not just one meal during the season but a continuum of eating, drinking and repeating it that’s totally misaligned with your regular food habits and activity levels. Such increased food and alcohol intake double the risk of heart failure in those who are susceptible or already suffer from heart problems. While typically, the recommended levels stand at one drink for women and two for men the holiday season brings about more than 3-4 glasses of alcohol consumption that surely puts you at an increased risk for health issues.
Moderation is the Key
Start planning ahead of the holiday season. If you are the host ensure to take care of all the arrangements well before time else the stress can bust your happiness and the lack of sleep can once again increase stress levels. Plan the day, your commitments to a party and celebration well in advance. If you are visiting your friend’s place for dinner have a light lunch, indulge in some physical exercise and get a good night’s rest before you go. Be conscious about the intake of alcohol, don’t gobble up sweet treats, control portion sizes and have everything in moderation. Enjoy your food and drink slowly relishing every mouthful of it. This would help you avoid overindulging in your favourite chocolate mousse or cocktail booze.
If you do have a couple of commitments over the same day it might result in binge drinking-a glass at your office party, one at your neighbour’s place and another one at your own! Go for a fresh fruit drink, choose a mocktail or go for a glass of soda at any of these places rather than indulging in alcohol at all places. Otherwise, there are classic chances that you might end up at the hospital with some discomfort in your heart. A complete elaboration on how to eat during the holiday season is just a click away at www.firsteatright.com.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.