The holidays are here! It’s an exciting time of year, but it can be challenging for people looking to eat healthy. Between holiday office parties, parties with family and friends, and the holidays themselves, sweets and treats are everywhere. It can seem like every social gathering revolves around rich meals that, though delicious, are not as heart-healthy as you would like.

Don’t let this get you down! It’s possible to enjoy the holidays in a healthy way without losing out on your favorite foods. Here are 7 tips to follow this holiday season:

  1. Take Everything in Moderation
    Don’t cut out the foods that you really love! It’s okay to treat yourself to what you truly enjoy. By indulging a little, you can avoid cravings that can lead to binging on treats later on. Be careful though, “moderation” is the key word here. Keep a close eye on serving sizes. While it might be okay to have a small glass of eggnog, don’t fill the largest glass you can find and tell yourself, “It was only one drink.”
  2. Embrace Portion Control
    How much you eat matters, whether it’s Nana’s pie or Aunt Jen’s turkey. Using small plates and bowls can help you avoid taking too much food. No one likes to throw away food and many people will finish all of the food on their plate. Smaller plates can help you avoid overeating, and you’ll be less tempted to take food you don’t really want.
  3. Look For Healthy Alternatives
    Embrace healthy alternatives when you’re cooking. This can include:

    • Using only whole grains
    • Replacing butter with vegetable oil or margarine
    • Using low-fat or skim milk while cooking, instead of whole milk
    • Replacing carbohydrates in a meal with legumes, such as beans and lentils (Quinoa is another great alternative.)
    • Using unsweetened applesauce to replace eggs, butter, or oil in baking recipes
    • Embracing unsweetened, flavored waters over your favorite soda
  4. Check Your Labels
    When you’re out shopping for ingredients, make sure to check the labels on different brands. Choose ingredients with less sodium and sugars. You’ll be able to create the same wonderful meals, but they’ll be healthier.
  5. Watch Where You Sit
    When you’re attending a holiday party, avoid sitting in front of the “snack” table and leave the dinner table when you’re done eating. Having those delicious temptations in front of you can lead to mindless eating.
  6. Offer to Bring a Heart-Healthy Dish
    If you’re worried about what foods will be at a holiday party, offer to bring something. That way you can guarantee there will be healthy foods for you to snack on. Vegetables with hummus and fruit salads are just two great options. You won’t be the only person at the party who will appreciate a healthier option over the traditional chips and dip.
  7. Eat Before You Go
    In your kitchen, you’re in control. Showing up at a holiday party hungry is never a good idea. By eating a healthy meal before you go, you’ll be less likely to overeat or snack on foods you wouldn’t normally.