a woman with heart failure places a dish on a table while she is surrounded by her family

Changing the Holidays

No, I am not changing the holidays in the way you might think. I am changing (and have changed) the way I celebrate the holidays. There is no secret to keeping the holidays the same as before my diagnosis. That would be impossible unless I completely ignored all the healthy habits I have formed or my doctor’s advice. There are a few things that we as heart failure patients need to change or have changed to make life a little easier during and after the holiday season.

Learn to say no

The first thing I have learned is to say no. You don’t have to eat something you know will cause you issues the next day because you think you might hurt someone’s feelings or people will look at you weird. If you are keeping your condition a secret, it’s as simple as telling people you are not in the mood for it or say you will get some in a little bit. Usually, people forget you didn’t have it after the initial serving. If they don’t forget, just say you are full. You have to be able to say no sometimes. I say it all the time. If people don’t understand or seem to be upset, I don’t really care. This is about my health, not their feelings.

Making my own food

I have also started to make my own food. Whether it’s bringing a dish to a big dinner or making it yourself, you have control over the salt and other contents of the dish or meal. Most people don’t realize salt is missing from many dishes. Some blander foods like mash potatoes you will probably notice, but other dishes it’s really not that noticeable. This also gives you something you can use to fill up on and know what you are eating. Many of us track our intake of certain items and this will help a lot. The good thing about leaving salt out of many dishes is people can add their own salt to taste, so it really doesn’t take away from the dish at all in the end.

Get good sleep

Don’t be the last to leave. We all know how important sleep is. We all need it, and most of us need it more than ever. Staying up later than you need to is dangerous. First, you could be more tired driving home which puts you at higher risk for an accident, but it can cause the following days to be worse than they normally would be. Yes, we all want to spend as much time as possible with family and friends. No, we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by leaving earlier than everyone else. It’s ok. You need to take care of yourself. I do what I need to do in order to stay healthy and keep myself where I need to be every day, and you should too.

Staying healthy and happy

These are a few things I have changed since my diagnosis to make the holidays safer and happier for me. It’s ok to make changes you need to. Eventually, we all will have to regardless of our health status. It comes with getting older. When it comes to your health, there is nothing that should get in the way of it. If your family and friends truly do care about you, they will understand and encourage you to do what is needed to stay happy and healthy.

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