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Be at your peak this holiday season

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Be at your peak this holiday season

We’re barely into November, and you may already be feeling some holiday stress. For some of us, the holiday season can take an emotional, mental and physical toll. And it seems to start earlier every year! We’ve got some tips to help you dial down the stress and dial in to the joy of the season.

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Whether you love the holidays or are a card-carrying Grinch, they’re chock-full of reasons to overindulge, overschedule, overeat and… well, basically over-everything — except exercise! But you can enjoy the holidays without ditching your health goals.

November is the American Heart Association’s Eat Smart Month, and our focus this year is healthy holiday habits. Eat Smart Month is for you, your family, your community and your workplace. It can help everyone eat smart, move more and be well this holiday season.

Make healthy choices part of your holiday traditions

Get creative to add a healthy twist to the festivities (without hearing cries of “party pooper” from family and friends).

  • Include delicious seasonal produce on your menus. Think apples, cranberries, pears, root vegetables and winter squashes.

  • Discover a healthy dish that can be your go-to for potlucks and parties. Try some of our festive recipes like Red and Green Bell Pepper Bites, Baked Sweet Potatoes and Apples, Apple Bread Pudding and more.

  • Create a light holiday “mocktail” or “skinny” cocktail to celebrate with fewer calories and added sugars. Seltzer can add sparkle, and berries and mint bring the color.

  • Get everyone active outside after the big meal. Try a long walk, an afternoon of sledding, or a family game of basketball or touch football.

Self-care for less stress during the holiday season

Self-care and healthy habits are even more important in times of stress. But that’s usually when we get so caught up in our to-do’s that we let them slide.

Here are a few smart self-care tips to help you make it through the season in good health:

  • Balance is the key. You can enjoy some of the splurges of the season without overdoing it. For example, if you’re going to miss your workout for a holiday event, walk during lunch or ride your bike to work. If dinner is going to be a feast, opt for a light lunch. Save your appetite for the big meal by skipping appetizers or choosing lighter snacks like cut-up fruits and veggies.

  • Give yourself the gift of peace. When the invitations pile up, don’t be afraid to say no to some of them. If you need some down time to recharge for the next party, take a break. Do something that relaxes you, like yoga, meditation, a warm bath or spending time in nature.

  • Get your ZZZs. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to stay in the healthy zone. Don’t let your wake-up time and bedtime get too far off your regular schedule. Nap when needed and ditch the digital devices at night.

  • Focus on being present instead of buying presents. When holiday stress starts to get to you, the two simple practices of mindfulness and gratitude can help. Focus on what you’re doing right now and what you’re thankful for. Slow down, take it one step at a time and make your well-being a priority.

One way to slow down and simplify meal prep is by using your slow cooker. Our updated bestselling Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook includes 30 new recipes from appetizers to desserts and everything in between. It makes a great holiday gift!

For more tips and recipes, check out the Eat Smart Month toolkit and Holiday Healthy Eating recipe booklet.

Join our #DietDilemma Twitter Chat on November 7

Understanding the need to eat healthy is easy but sorting through confusing nutrition information can be hard to do. That’s why Healthy for Good and NBC News BETTER are asking people for their biggest diet dilemmas.

Experts will answer your questions in a #DietDilemma Twitter chat on Eat Smart Day, November 7, 1-2 p.m. CT.

How are you going to celebrate eating smart and being healthy for good this holiday season?