November is Eat Smart Month

American Heart Association Reminds Us to Eat Smart

November is Eat Smart Month, a calendar designation created by the American Heart Association.  The campaign encourages Americans to commit to healthier eating habits.  Making such a commitment can be a big challenge, especially in November given that it is the beginning of the holiday eating season.  One of the goals of the campaign is to remind Americans to keep healthier eating ideas in mind in order to avoid some of the overindulgences that are commonly associated with family gatherings.

The goal is not deprivation.  It is entirely possible to enjoy the holidays without going overboard on rich, decadent foods. The American Heart Association recommends keeping an eye on a few factors in order to keep your holiday meals as healthful as possible.

Reduce or Eliminate Sugar

Studies continue to reveal that Americans consume far too much sugar.  The effects of too much sugar include an increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.  Each of these conditions can result in a higher probability of suffering heart disease or a stroke. Forgoing dessert is a simple step toward reducing sugar, but one should also be aware of the sugar content of fruit juices and sodas.  Processed foods often have an abundance of sugar, so check the labels and aim to buy lower-sugar choices.

Focus on Fruits and Vegetables

Vegetables and fruits provide important minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. Eating a diet high in plant foods may provide protection against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Limit Sodium

Like sugar, sodium is in abundance in processed foods.  Look for low sodium versions of food items such as broths and condiments.  Try out a salt substitute for cooking and seasoning meals.  Use herbs, non-salt spices, and lemon juice to add additional flavor.

Reduce Fat

Focusing on fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and fish will naturally result in a reduction of saturated fat.  If you consume dairy, look for reduced-fat options.  Watch the amount of oil you use when cooking.  Use it sparingly and choose healthier oils such as olive and avocado.

Drink Water to Stay Hydrated

The majority of our body weight is made up of water.  It is vital to many of our bodily functions.  Most people get only approximately 20% of their daily water intake from foods, therefore it is necessary to drink more water and water-based beverages in order to stay properly hydrated. The American Heart Association recommends drinking 80 to 100 ounces of water each day for overall health and proper hydration.  As a bonus, consuming that much water tends to take an edge off of your appetite, helping you stick to your healthier November eating habits.

Enjoy the Holidays Healthfully

There are so many recipes online for healthier holiday favorites, that there is no need to let your family gatherings derail your good habits.  Below are some links to health-conscious recipes for holiday favorites:

Watch the YouTube video from Good Day Sacramento reporting on Eat Smart Month.

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