Planning Is Key to a Healthy Holiday Season

Is it even possible to stay healthy during the holidays? Yes! And you can do it without FOMO or a lot of effort.

Grandma’s fudge is a family tradition and your coworker’s cookies are calling you from the breakroom. Indulging a little won’t hurt — so lighten up, literally. Enjoy holiday treats in smaller portions, make healthy substitutions where you can, plan ahead for merry meals that are healthy and make your exercise part of the plan too (even if you do have to scale it back some).

For me, that word “plan” is the key. I plan to eat healthfully around the unhealthy meals and I plan to limit my sweet treats to small portions. And most of all, because we all know you can’t outrun a bad diet, I plan my exercise time. And with a little planning, and a little help from the American Heart Association, you can navigate to holiday gatherings like a boss.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Be sure to include fruits and vegetables – they will add flavor and they help you feel fuller, longer, so you can avoid the temptation to overeat.
  • Learn where excess calories, sodium, saturated fat and added sugars are hiding in traditional holiday foods and beverages – and some easy swaps to avoid them.
  • Have a healthy snack before the unhealthy splurges to help keep you from overeating.

From the obligatory workplace parties to family get-togethers, your calendar may be bursting with opportunities to eat and drink outside of your regular routine – so it all goes back to that “p” word – make a “plan” that will help you resist overindulging and that will allow you to sprinkle in your exercise. For a complete guide to healthy holiday season, check out the American Heart Association’s Healthy Holiday Eating Guide. It provides a full run down (for FREE!) of how to make the most of making your holidays as healthy as possible.

Brianne Ballard is senior director of communications and marketing for the American Heart Association.