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May Your Days Be Merry and Light

Tips to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Maintaining healthy habits during the holidays does not have to leave you feeling deprived.

Woman eating an apple"It's as important as ever to eat right and exercise, and with a little forethought you can still enjoy yourself," said Elisabeth Moore, RD, a nutrition therapist at the CardioVascular Institute.

If you're hosting an event or dining out, you can control the menu-use the opportunity to make heart-healthy food choices, including some of the foods suggested below.

If you're attending a gathering at someone's home, Moore added, "Plan ahead and have a snack before the party so you don't arrive too hungry. This may help you to make better choices and not overdo it."

You can also bring a healthy treat or two that will keep you on track. If appetizers are your downfall, help yourself to a small handful of nuts, fresh fruit or chilled shrimp. You'll also find appealing appetizer ideas in this issue's recipes from Happy Heart.

Healthy Holiday Meals

There's plenty of heart-healthy produce available during the winter months. The foods on our list are all loaded with antioxidants, making them great additions to your holiday meals.

  • Cranberries remain in season throughout the winter and make a festive and tasty snack. For cranberry sauce, avoid the canned, sugared variety and make your own instead. Better yet, toss fresh cranberries in a salad or mix with rice for a tangy bite!
  • Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits are plentiful and provide a much-needed vitamin C boost. Work fresh oranges into your dinner by adding them to poultry or pork recipes.
  • Reach for the cruciferous veggies, which are packed with vitamins, fiber and disease-fighting phytochemicals. These include broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Whip up a hearty potato and kale soup, or substitute kale for any leafy veggie in a dish.
  • Indulge a little with a cup of hot cocoa. Be sure to use at least 60% cocoa to get the heart healthy antioxidants, and please skip those sugary chocolate mixes.

Let Beverages Boost Your Health

Don't forget that drinks count, too! It's easy to add unwanted calories and weight by yielding to the temptation of high-fat eggnogs or hot buttered rum. Here are better choices:

  • Green tea, filled with antioxidants, can replace coffee in the morning and a chilled version makes a healthy thirst quencher anytime.
  • Mix light cranberry juice with sparkling water for a festive beverage.
  • Red wine is linked to heart health benefits, but any wine or light beer is a better choice than a mixed drink if you're watching calories. Be sure to check with your doctor about the amount of alcohol that is appropriate for you.
  • Alternate alcoholic beverages with water, and limit yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks.
  • As with so many things, moderation is the name of the game.

Make Holiday Shopping a Real Workout

If you find yourself logging in an abundance of time at the mall, make it beneficial to your health with these fitness tips.

  • Park on the opposite side of the store you're headed to or in the far end of the lot to maximize walking distance.
  • Waiting in line to pay for a purchase? Use the time to surreptitiously tighten and release your abdominal muscles for a mini workout!
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, and pick up the pace to get your heart rate up.
  • Avoid the temptation of the food court. Eat before you leave home or take healthy snacks with you so there's less of a chance you'll give in to the allure of a neon fast-food sign.
  • After you finish shopping, walk a few extra laps around the mall just because.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted December 2010

Contact Information

CardioVascular Institute at
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215