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Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday

New! Click here for four healthy holiday recipes

Healthy holiday tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Many of us are aware that our weight has changed from our wedding day or from when we were in college or serving in the military. What we may not know is that much of that annual upward drift in weight occurs during the holiday season.

How can we enjoy the holiday season without overeating? In addition to all the social occasions tempting us, all of our rushing around can throw our normal routine out the window.

Don't give up! The following 10 guidelines will help you enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your good health.

  1. This is not a great time of year to try to lose weight. Do be aware of your weight, but make maintenance your goal. Don't pack on an extra five pounds and plan to lose it by dieting in January.

  2. Remember that alcoholic beverages — as well as beverages such as hot chocolate and eggnog — are high in calories. Calories from liquid are less filling. There are many calorie-free and alcohol-free beverages that are fancy enough for parties, such as imported mineral water, bottled green tea, raspberry seltzer with ice cubes frozen with fresh raspberries!

  3. When attending a party, bring a healthy dish. Shrimp cocktail is always welcome, if a bit expensive. An assortment of roasted peppers, glazed onions, grape tomatoes, artichoke hearts and olives makes a lovely display. Try wrapping cantaloupe in thin slices of prosciutto or honeydew melon in slices of smoked salmon. They are salty, but low in calories — and very attractive.

  4. Resist offers to bring home food from parties. A tray of cookies won't help your self-control!

  5. Get some fresh air and exercise. Take a quick walk. It will burn calories while at the same time banishing stress.

  6. Don't starve yourself all day before a party. Have a big salad or a bowl of high-fiber cereal with low-fat milk. If you're really hungry at a party, you're less likely to eat thoughtfully.

  7. Don't let holiday craziness drive out family mealtimes. Work to mesh everyone's schedule to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Make sure to include a salad, fruits and vegetables, as well as conversation.

  8. Lighten up your family favorites. Use a fat-skimmer cup to remove the fat from your gravy. Cook your stuffing with broth outside the bird so it won't absorb fat. Prepare your mashed potatoes with skim evaporated milk and "butter buds" rather than butter and cream.

  9. Stay away from pie crusts and whipped cream. A bite or two of the filling is the best part — and often the healthiest part. Click here for a recipe for light pumpkin pie (PDF document).

  10. The best tip of all — portion control. Nothing is so bad for you that you can't have one bite. That first bite is always the best, so stop there and try just one bite of the next thing.

Start the New Year without a "high-calorie hangover" — and make a resolution to continue the good work!

Keep the Beat Cookbook

Download a free copy of Keep the Beat, heart healthy recipes from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute.

The book contains a collection of recipes that grew out of research and education projects that dealt with ways to help Americans keep their hearts strong by reducing their intake of calories, fat, especially saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

They include the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — or "DASH" — clinical study and the popular Stay Young at Heart nutrition education program.

Now, you can use the results of these efforts to improve your own heart health.

Click here to download the book (PDF, 2 MB).

From the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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