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You can still enjoy the potlucks and parties during the holidays without sabotaging your diet.
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Eating healthy during the holidays

The holidays are full of temptations. Sales beckon from store windows and email advertisements fill your inbox. Hearing about all your friends' vacations makes you want to book your own. And perhaps the biggest temptation comes from the kitchen table, where mounds of holiday indulgences and sweet treats collect ahead of the big family feast.

Celebrating the most wonderful time of year is certainly something to cherish, but it comes with some challenges. There seems to be a holiday party or potluck around every corner and many of the dishes you look forward to aren't the healthiest.

The American Heart Association and CHI Franciscan are here to save you from those splurges and protect your health so you can enjoy many holidays to come. Here are some tips from Holly Martindale, registered dietitian at St. Joseph Medical Center, that'll help you continue your holiday traditions without compromising your health.

Tips for holiday parties

  • Whether you're visiting your family or gathering with friends for a potluck, offer to bring a dish. You can control what you make, giving yourself at least one healthy option at the table.
  • If the party is during lunch, eat a healthy breakfast followed by a high-fiber snack in the mid-morning. An apple or a small handful of almonds are good examples. If the party is at the end of the day, enjoy a protein-packed lunch like grilled fish or chicken with a salad, and then follow up with a high-fiber snack later in the afternoon. If you're not too hungry when you go to the party, it'll be easier to avoid overeating.
  • Divide and conquer with the desserts. You can cut the calories and fat in half by splitting the sweets with someone, but you'll still get to splurge a little.
  • If alcohol is being served, alternate each glass with a glass of water. This will keep you hydrated while filling your stomach.

Foods to include

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish, skinless poultry, and plant-based alternatives
  • Fat-free and low-fat dairy products
  • Healthier fats and non-tropical oils
  • Baked or grilled items

Foods to limit

  • Saturated fat
  • Heavily salted foods and highly-processed foods that contain lots of sodium
  • Fatty and processed meats. If you choose to eat red meat, look for leaner cuts or trim the fat as much as you can.
  • Sweets and added sugars. Many holiday beverages have so much added sugar that they could be a dessert. Depending on everything else you eat, it might be best to enjoy these drinks on another day.

Foods to avoid

  • Skip the fried foods and anything that's loaded with butter, cheese, and cream. Even smaller portions can pack a lot of fat in a little chunk.
  • Trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils, and excessive calories

Visit the American Heart Association at heart.org/cholesteroltool for more health tips and recipes. If you want to try making the all-spice rubbed pork tenderloin dish featured in this Seattle Refined segment, here is the recipe.

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