The holidays are all about family, fun and food! Below are some great tips to help you celebrate the season without putting your healthy habits on hold.
Watch our website later this week for heart healthy holiday meal recipes.
Here are some simple ways you and your family can eat healthy. Learn more at Eat Smart
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Fish, skinless poultry, and plant-based alternatives
- Fat-free and low-fat dairy products
- Healthier fats and nontropical oils
- Sodium and salty or highly processed foods
- Saturated fat
- Sweets and added sugars, including sugar-sweetened beverages
- Fatty or processed meats — if you choose to eat red meat, select the leanest cuts
- Trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils and excessive calories
- Choose wisely, even with healthier foods. Ingredients and nutrient content can vary by brand and preparation.
- Compare nutrition information on package labels and select products with the lowest amounts of sodium, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat, and no partially hydrogenated oils.
- Watch your calorie intake. To maintain weight, consume only as many calories as you use up through physical activity. If you want to lose weight, consume fewer calories or burn more calories.
- Eat reasonable portions. Often this is less than you are served.
- Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients your body needs.
- Prepare and eat healthier meals at home. You’ll have more control over ingredients.</li
- Look for the Heart-Check mark to easily identify foods that can be part of an overall healthy diet. Learn more at Heart Check
BE SMART ABOUT BEVERAGES
The holidays are chock full of delicious dishes, but they can come with extra calories and unwanted ingredients. Try these tips to enjoy your favorite winter beverages.
- Mix it up. Fill your glass with half- to three-quarter-parts of low-fat or skim
- Act like a kid. Take out the alcohol. This simple step will reduce the caloric content.
- Cut the fluff. Pass on that big dollop of whipped cream to avoid the extra sugar and saturated fat.
- Find an alternative. Try a low-fat or non-dairy version.
milk and one part eggnog. You’ll still get the flavor without all the calories.
- Lighten up. Try hot chocolate made with low-fat or skim milk, and without whipped cream.
- Do some research. With instant hot chocolate, look for products marked “low-fat/fat-free” and use low-fat or nonfat milk or hot water. Choose options with less added sugars.
- Go easy on the toppings. Use mini-marshmallows instead of large ones. Use low-fat whipped cream, or stick to less than one tablespoon. Try lighter toppings like grated cinnamon or nutmeg.
- Read the labels. When buying cider, check the added sugar content, which can increase your calorie intake and cause weight gain. Choose options with less sugar.
- Do it yourself. When making cider at home, use unsweetened apple juice and a variety of spices (like cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and whole cranberries). You’ll keep the flavor while cutting calories.
COCKTAILS AND OTHER ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
- Enjoy mocktails. Serve non-alcoholic versions of your favorite cocktails to lower the calories. Be sure to check the nutrition label, because sometimes products that are alcohol-free have more added sugar.
- Break it up. Drink a glass of water or sparkling water between each beverage. This will help fill you up, leaving less room to overindulge.
- Limit your sodium. Did you know that many of your favorite holiday dishes may be packed with sodium? Breads and rolls, poultry, and canned soups are three common foods that can add sodium to your diet. When shopping for ingredients to prepare your holiday meal, compare the labels and choose options with the lowest amount of sodium.
- Savor the flavor. Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of salt or butter.
- Rinse away. When using canned beans or veggies, drain and rinse in a colander to remove excess sodium.
- Outsmart the bird. Reach for the lighter pieces of meat; they have fewer calories and less fat than the darker ones. Another way to cut calories and fat is to take off the skin.
- Keep portions in check. A serving size of meat is 3 oz., about the size of a deck of cards. So, be conscious of how much you put on your plate, and pass on that second helping. If you’re also having another meat, like ham or lamb, take smaller portions of each.
- Watch out for the gravy train. Turkey usually comes with gravy, which can add excess saturated fat, calories and sodium. Limit gravy to a tablespoon, and keep it off other items, like the dressing.
- Call it what it is. Dressing is intended to be a complement to your meal, not an entrée. Limit servings to about 1/4 cup or one spoonful.
- Judge it by its cover. If the dressing is filled with fatty meats like sausage and pork, looks greasy or buttery, or is made with white bread or sweet rolls, it may be best to pass. Better options include dressings made with whole grain or cornbread, lean meat (or no meat), nuts (like almonds or walnuts), and lots of veggies and fruits.
- Skip the extras. Make sure everyone has an appetite for the meal by skipping appetizers and serving lighter snacks like cut-up fruits and veggies.
- Treat yourself right. Try bite-sized or half portions of desserts, or split servings with others.
- Sip smart. Instead of soda or sweet tea, which can add a lot of sugar to an already indulgent meal, serve sparkling water or tea sweetened only with a bit of 100% fruit juice.
- Lighten up. Reduce the amount of sugar you use in sides like sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce. Use herbs and spices for flavor instead.
HEALTHY HOLIDAY PARTIES
‘Tis the season of celebrations. Whatever the event, these tips can help you stay
healthy while having fun.
APPETIZERS AND HORS D’OEUVRES
- Get involved. Whether potluck or not, offer to bring a dish. You can make a healthier item, giving yourself at least one good option to enjoy.
- Come prepared. If the party is during lunch, eat a healthy breakfast followed in mid-morning by a high-fiber snack, such as an apple or a small handful of almonds. If the party is at the end of the day, enjoy a protein packed lunch like grilled fish or chicken with a salad and then later in the afternoon have another high-fiber snack. If you’re not too hungry when you go to the party, it will be easier to avoid overeating.
- Go easy. Avoid loading up on foods that are fried, buttered or have a lot of cheese and cream. Even though the portions may be small, these fat-laden bites can really pack a punch. Look for fruit, veggies and dip, whole-grain crackers, and baked or grilled items.
- Use the buddy system. By splitting a dessert with someone, you can cut the calories and fat in half and avoid being wasteful. It’s a win-win!
- Mix it up. If alcohol is being served, alternate each glass with a glass of water. This will help reduce your thirst while filling your stomach and you’ll consume fewer calories.
- Watch seasonal drinks. Many holiday beverages have so much added sugar, they may as well be a dessert. Keep in mind what else you’ve eaten; it may be best to enjoy these drinks on another day.
MAKING TRADITIONS HEALTHY
Keep your holiday traditions, and make small changes and smart substitutions where you can.
- Instead of butter, use a healthier vegetable oil or substitute equal parts unsweetened applesauce when baking.
- Use a lower-calorie sugar substitute.
- Use low-fat or nonfat milk instead of whole milk or heavy cream.
- Instead of only white flour, use half white and half whole-wheat flour.
- Instead of adding chocolate chips or candies, use dried fruit, like cranberries or cherries.
- Use extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint to add flavor, instead of sugar or butter.
- Use vegetable oils or soft margarine instead of butter.
- Use whole-grain breads, rice and pasta instead of white.
- Bake, grill or steam vegetables instead of frying.
- Compare labels of your holiday ingredients, and choose products with lower amounts of sodium and added sugars.
- Use spices, fresh herbs and citrus juice to flavor foods and drinks instead of excess salt and added sugars.
MOVE MORE. BE WELL.
If your holiday traditions all seem to revolve around eating, liven things up with some opportunities to be physically active with family and friends.
- Go for a walk or run. Instead of heading for the couch after the big meal, bundle up and head outdoors for some fresh air. Walking is an activity the whole family can do together, even the dog!
- Play to win. Start a new tradition of an annual family game of touch football, basketball, mini-golf or whatever your family’s favorite sport is.
- Make it move. Add movements and gestures to your favorite card or board games.
- Play in the snow. Go sledding, ice skating, skiing or snowshoeing. Build a snowman or snow fort. Team up for an epic snowball fight.
- Break up the binge-watching. In between bowl games or your favorite holiday movies, take a walk or do something active.
If the holidays sometimes leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed, take care of yourself to stay well.
- Keep up healthy habits. Make a commitment to yourself before the holiday season begins. If you don’t completely give up your healthy habits, you won’t feel like you have to start all over once the holidays are in the rear-view.
- Fit in fitness. Try not to skip workouts, but when a full social calendar gets in the way, sprinkle some healthy activity like walking into your daily routine.
- Give yourself the gift of peace. When the invitations pile up, don’t be afraid to say no to some of them. If you need some down time to recharge for the next party, take a break. Do something that relaxes you, like yoga, meditation, reading, a warm bath or spending time in nature.
- Get your ZZZs. Aim for 7–9 hours of sleep each night to stay in the healthy zone. Don’t let your wake-up time and bedtime get too far off your regular schedule. Nap when needed and ditch the digital devices at night.
For more tips, visit Healthy For Good.