Eat healthy during the holidays

While fun, the holidays can also send healthy eating habits right out the window. The American Heart Association offers a few tips to help you stay on a heart-healthy course while still enjoying all the season’s festivities.

Gaining weight is one holiday tradition that no one wants to keep. Set the stage for success.

– Don’t starve yourself the day of the party so you can fill up on food that evening. If you eat normally throughout the day, you’re much less likely to overeat at the party. Try eating a healthy snack, such as a piece of fruit, before going to the party.

– Remember: The point of holiday gatherings is to celebrate, not to eat. Mingle with friends and loved ones instead of hovering around the buffet table.

– Don’t load up at the buffet table. Balance and moderation is important. Keep portion sizes small by putting your snacks on a small plate instead of a large one and limiting your trips to the buffet.

– Wait 20 minutes before getting another plate of food. You’ll often find that you’re no longer hungry.

Sneak in a few healthy cooking techniques without losing the flavor.

– Use non-stick cookware so you can cook with a minimum of oil or vegetable oil spray.

– For a wonderful flavor enhancer, sprinkle food with vinegar or citrus juice. Add it at the last minute so the flavor is at its strongest.

– Substitute chopped vegetables for some of the bread in your stuffing recipe.

– Try substituting high-fat ingredients with low-fat alternatives. Some recipes allow apple sauce in place of certain oils, or fat free, cholesterol free egg products for eggs.

Adding activity can offset the extra food you may eat. It’s important to maintain your physical activity during the holidays – the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes or more of exercise most days of the week. Use the tips below to help manage your daily fitness routine.

– ‘Tis the season for spending time with family! Use the holidays to create quality family activities. Take walk around the neighborhood after dinner to look at holiday lights. Building snowmen, sledding, ice skating are all thrilling activities that keep both children and adults entertained.

– Be flexible. If there are no 30-minute blocks in your schedule, use any chance you find. Ten minutes of walking a few times a day is better than nothing.

– Multitask! Try speed cleaning. Take a brisk walk through the mall. Before you know it your task list will be done.

– Park at the far end of the lot is an easy way to avoid stressful parking situations. Not only will you lower your stress level, you’ll burn extra calories by walking.

– Any exercise moves you toward a healthier heart.