Give your heart the gift of healthy eating this Thanksgiving, the American Heart Association suggests.

“It’s easy to get off track from making healthy choices during the holidays, and the pandemic may add to the stress,” Dr. Anne Thorndike, chair of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Nutrition Committee, said in a heart association news release.

“Eating healthfully during the holidays doesn’t mean depriving yourself; it’s about eating smart and looking for small, healthy changes and swaps you can make so you continue to feel your best. For example, choosing vegetables instead of crackers or chips at lunch may not seem like much, but those little changes add up over time,” said Thorndike. She’s an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Metabolic Syndrome Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

You don’t have to sacrifice taste when eating healthy, according to Bridget Wojciak, director of nutrition and dietetics at Kroger Health, a national sponsor of the AHA’s Healthy for Good program.

“Find the delicious, nutrient-packed foods you love,” Wojciak said. “Not everyone likes broccoli, and that is OK. There are so many varieties of fruits and vegetables to try, and so many healthful ways to prepare them. See what works best for you, and who knows? You may have a new holiday recipe to add to your table.”

Here are some suggestions for healthy eating during the holidays:

  • Reduce sodium/salt by using more herbs and spices such as rosemary and thyme to flavor meals.
  • Choose nutritious snacks, like popcorn.
  • When grocery shopping, look for products with the AHA’s Heart-Check mark.

During the holiday season, it’s also important to find opportunities to practice gratitude and meditate. Managing stress benefits your mind and heart.

More information

For more on healthy eating, go to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Oct. 30, 2020