Nourishing yourself is smart for your heart and an effective way to take control of your health during the holidays. During Eat Smart Month this November, the American Heart Association (AHA) offers its latest recipes and science-backed tips to help you be Healthy for Good™.
“The holidays can present nutrition challenges and additional stressors, but simple changes and investments in your own health can make an impact on your well-being and help you enjoy the season even more,” said Jo Ann Carson, PhD, RD, retired professor of clinical nutrition in Dallas and past volunteer chair of the nutrition committee of the AHA. “Start small by making one more healthy choice today and build on it tomorrow.”
“One healthy decision, like choosing baked over fried food for lunch, may not seem like much on its own, but success leads to more success and over time those little things add up to more health,” Carson said. Focus on small, consistent steps.
A recent survey conducted by Aramark and the AHA showed more than three out of four (77%) employed U.S. adults say they’re more likely to make healthier decisions at other times of the day if they eat healthy at lunch.
Bridget Wojciak, RDN, LD, senior nutrition coordinator at Kroger, a national supporter of Healthy for Good, also warns against one common mistake: putting healthy habits on hold.
“Don’t let the holidays scare you,” Wojciak said. “It’s ok to have some of your holiday favorites, just don’t lose sight of the nutrition basics like consuming adequate water throughout the day, combining protein and fiber at meals to help stay full, and incorporating fruits and veggies at both snacks and meals.”
The AHA’s Healthy for Good Eat Smart Initiative offers five tips for nourishing yourself this holiday season:
- Get creative with swaps: Cooking at home is a great way to take control of your diet and tweak favorite seasonal dishes. Reduce sodium by replacing salt with herbs and spices, adding more fruits and vegetables to dishes and using lower-sodium canned and frozen products. Combine lower-sodium foods with regular versions to help your taste adapt.
- Snack smart: To avoid overindulging at holiday gatherings, prep with nutrient-rich, Good Mood Foods that don’t sacrifice taste. Check out this no-added-sugars recipe for Cinnamon Sweet Tortilla Chips with Fruit Salsa created by the American Heart Association and Healthy for Good supporter, SweetLeaf. Perfect for a pre-party snack that will keep you feeling full and less tempted by those unhealthy choices.
- Take your time: Don’t rush through meals. Enjoy mealtime with family and friends by pausing between bites and savoring your food.
- Use time-saving technology: Many grocers make it easy to shop deals and save time with online ordering and pick-up and delivery options. Plus, it’s easier to resist that candy bar in the checkout line if you aren’t in a staring contest with it.
- Practice gratitude: It can help lower blood pressure, improve your immune system and spur you to eat better and exercise more. Write down five things you’re grateful for and share them with your family and friends. Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving.
For more healthy tips and recipes visit heart.org/eatsmartmonth.