Understanding the food for Healthy eating. Healthy eating starts with healthy food choices. You don’t need to be a chef to create nutritious, heart-healthy meals your family will love. Learn what to look for at the grocery store, restaurants, your workplace, and any eating occasion.

Holiday Healthy Eating Guide

Because the holidays are all about family, friends, fun, and food! This guide offers great tips and recipes to help you celebrate the season without putting your healthy habits on hold.

Be at your peak this holiday season by eating smart and moving more!

Here are some simple ways you and your family can eat healthy.


  • Sodium and salty or highly processed foods
  • Sweets and added sugars, including sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Saturated fat
  • Fatty or processed meats — if you choose to eat red meat, select the leanest cuts


  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish, skinless poultry, and plant-based alternatives
  • Fat-free and low-fat dairy products
  • Whole grains
  • Healthier fats and nontropical oils


  • Watch your calorie intake. To maintain weight, consume only as many calories as you use up through physical activity. If you want to lose weight, consume fewer calories or burn more calories.
  • Choose wisely, even with healthier foods. Ingredients and nutrient content can vary by brand and preparation.
  • Compare nutrition information on package labels and select products with the lowest amounts of sodium, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat, and no partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Eat reasonable portions. Often this is less than you are served.
  • Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients your body needs.
  • Prepare and eat healthier meals at home. You’ll have more control over ingredients.
  • Look for the Heart-Check mark to easily identify foods that can be part of an overall healthy diet.


Trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils and excessive calories.



  • Savor the flavor. Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of salt or butter.
  • Limit your sodium. Did you know that many of your favorite holiday dishes may be packed with sodium? Bread and rolls, poultry, and canned soups are three common foods that can add sodium to your diet. When shopping for ingredients to prepare your holiday meal, compare the labels and choose options with the lowest amount of sodium.
  • Rinse away. When using canned beans or veggies, drain and rinse in a colander to remove excess sodium.


• Skip the extras. Make sure everyone has an appetite for the meal by skipping
appetizers and serving lighter snacks like cut-up fruits and veggies.


  • Sip smart. Instead of soda or sweet tea, which can add a lot of sugar to an already indulgent meal, serve sparkling water or tea sweetened only with a bit of 100% fruit juice.
  • Treat yourself right. Try bite-sized or half portions of desserts, or split servings with others.
  • Lighten up. Reduce the amount of sugar you use in sides like sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce. Use herbs and spices for flavor instead.


Keep your holiday traditions, and make small changes and smart substitutions where you can.

  • Use spices, fresh herbs, and citrus juice to flavor foods and drinks instead of excess salt and added sugars.
  • Use extracts like vanilla, almond, and peppermint to add flavor, instead of sugar or butter.
  • Instead of butter, use healthier vegetable oil or substitute equal parts unsweetened applesauce when baking.
  • Use low-fat or nonfat milk instead of whole milk or heavy cream.
  • Instead of only white flour, use half white and half whole-wheat flour.
  • Instead of adding chocolate chips or candies, use dried fruit, like cranberries or cherries.
  • Use a lower-calorie sugar substitute.
  • Bake, grill, or steam vegetables instead of frying.
  • Compare labels of your holiday ingredients, and choose products with lower amounts of sodium and added sugars.
  • Use vegetable oils or soft margarine instead of butter.
  • Use whole-grain bread, rice, and pasta instead of white.

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