Nutrition

11 Hacks for a Heart Healthy Holiday

table set with holiday foods including turkey, salad, and other side dishes.

The holidays do not have to derail you from your wellness goals! Despite being the season of feasts and sweets, you can have a heart healthy holiday season by following a few simple guidelines for planning a healthy holiday menu.

Healthy Recipe Substitutions

Most holiday recipes use copious amounts of salt, butter, and sugar which are not heart healthy and contribute to holiday weight gain.  But, that does not mean you need to avoid these foods entirely. The American Heart Association recommends simple substitutions, like replacing salt with herbs and spices or using unsweetened applesauce instead of butter when baking. Making mindful choices and looking for healthy alternatives means you can still indulge in some of your favorite foods, without impacting your health. 

Tips for Planning Your Menu

Rather than accepting weight gain in November and December and hoping to fight your way back to health in January, stay focused on your goals and follow these tips instead!  

  1. Fill up with healthy foods before holiday parties, do not go to a party hungry!
  2. Look for the “low-sodium” label when shopping.  Around 70% of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed, prepackaged or restaurant foods.
  3. Substitute brown rice or quinoa for white rice in recipes.
  4. Increase the amount of veggies used in a dish without adding extra fat and starch.  Zucchini or squash can be substituted for pasta and cauliflower for potatoes.
  5. Chew sugar-free gum or munch on veggies while cooking to avoid “tasting” too much.
  6. Limit stress by taking extra walks, enjoying a holiday movie, or finding time to remember things for which you are grateful.
  7. Get creative with leftovers. Give them away to family and friends, use them to dress up a salad or soup and always add extra veggies.  
  8. Use pureed pineapple to substitute for sugar and unsweetened applesauce as a substitute for oil.  
  9. Swap non-fat Greek yogurt for sour cream, the perfect sneaky switch when it comes to texture and flavor.
  10. Weigh yourself daily. It is not uncommon to gain an extra 5-10 pounds during the holiday season.  If you notice you are gaining weight, you can make adjustments to stay on track.
  11. Go for a walk after dinner and maintain your regular exercise regimen.

Explore healthy holiday recipes that you can add to your menu! 

Need more guidance? Learn more about how CoreLife can help you achieve your health goals through our comprehensive weight management program focusing on medical care, nutritional counseling, exercise, and behavioral health.

Robin Gould, MS, RD, LDN

Author Robin Gould, MS, RD, LDN

More posts by Robin Gould, MS, RD, LDN

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