Healthy Eating Tips for the Holiday Season

Many of us look forward to the holidays to visit with friends and family and to enjoy delectable foods we enjoy eating. However, over-indulging in traditional holiday foods can add extra pounds to waistlines, and increase risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  With simple tips and eating guidelines to think about, the American Heart Association (AHA) reminds us that we can make smart recipe substitutions to keep our holiday meals healthier. According to the AHA, many of the traditional foods served during the holidays can be healthy and the trick is to not load on the butter, sodium and sugar. Add color and nutrition to your plate with seasonal squash, roasted vegetables and fruit-based desserts. All of the holiday parties and dinners can throw off your healthy lifestyle goals. The AHA offers its annual Holiday Healthy Eating Guide to help people navigate the holiday season in a healthy way. The 13-page free guide has tips, recipes and resources to help maintain a healthy lifestyle during the busy holiday season. The guide is available free online at

Party with a healthy plan

Limit your portion sizes and the empty calories in alcohol drinks and fill up on healthier fruits and vegetables first, before the less healthy options. Keep dessert temptations to small samples of your favorites instead of full servings, and eat mindfully to enjoy every morsel. Don’t stand near the party buffet and avoid mindless nibbling. Be sure to pack your holiday meals with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, fish, skinless poultry, and plant-based side dishes and main courses.  Substitute fat-free and low-fat dairy products for the higher fat versions, like Greek yogurt for sour cream. Use lower sodium versions of foods like broth, canned vegetables and sauces. Use whole-grain breads and pastas instead of white flour ones. Cook with unsaturated, healthier fats, and non-tropical oils. Eliminate trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils. If you choose red meats, select the leanest cuts. When it comes to poultry, light meat is leaner than dark. A serving size of meat is 3 oz., about the size of a deck of cards. Avoid the empty calories of sugar-sweetened beverages, particularly if you are going to indulge in small samples of desserts.

More Cooking Tips

 Use vegetable oils such as olive oil instead of butter.  Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of butter and salt.  Bake, grill or steam vegetables instead of frying. Instead of whole milk or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or fat-free/skim milk.


Of course, exercise is critical to weight management and overall health. The AHA recommends getting 30 minutes of vigorous exercise on most days of the week. Eating more? Walk more! A brisk walk before or after meals can help burn those extra calories. Try taking a walk right before or after dinner to get your metabolism moving before indulging in the next course. Your body will thank you for it! To find more simple ways you and your family can eat healthy, visit