November’s theme: weight management

At the HCMA, November is when we’re thinking about weight management. We all know that winter months and holiday foods can lead to potential weight gain, and it happens to the best of us. It’s easy to gain weight with all the less healthy options in front of us – face it, we all love yummy treats! Those of us with HCM do better if we stay as close to our ideal weight as possible, so having an eating strategy over the holidays can help. 

Here are some tips to think about:

  • Drink plenty of water (you can add a splash of juice or a squeeze of lemon).
  • Pay attention to how much you’re eating and drinking.
  • Slow down and really taste the treat – you’ll feel satisfied with less.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks, juices, egg nog, and cocoa (yes, you’ll still have fun!).
  • Identify the healthiest option on the table: the veggie plate over the bowl of chips.
  • At festive meals, load half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with proteins, and minimize the carbs – using a smaller plate may help, too.
  • Consider having fruit or limiting sweet treats to a small portion for dessert.
  • Everything in moderation, and enjoy yourself!

Some people with HCM report that they don’t feel well or have worse symptoms after eating meals, particularly large ones or those with their “trigger foods” – researchers haven’t formally studied this, so pay attention to signs that your body reacts badly to carbs, large meals, or alcohol. Those with atrial fibrillation may find that alcohol, chocolate, cheese, and other foods may trigger them into an episode of afib.

Your symptoms are a good guide! You may feel better eating smaller amounts of food at each meal. 

If you’re like most people, telling yourself you can’t have a particular food can frustrate you; that’s why having a plan is essential and may stop you from making poor choices that will hinder your enjoyment of the holiday season. Your plan can include a favorite treat or two. Creating a plan isn’t always a guarantee for success, but not having a plan may lead to feeling poorly and having to bow out of social activities – and that’s no fun.  

Another way to avoid gaining holiday pounds is to get some exercise. Make it a family tradition to go for a walk between dinner and dessert! Remember that those with HCM can generally exercise at a level based on THEIR heart. If you still need to discuss an exercise plan with your medical team, please do so! Leading a sedentary lifestyle can add other health problems, which can add to complications of your HCM; you don’t need that. Finally, make sure you stay hydrated, set a plan, and have a wonderful holiday season! 

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