The holidays are a time of celebration, but along with the joy comes stress, expectations and pitfalls for your normally healthy routines. Grandma’s fudge is a family tradition, and your coworker’s baked goods are calling you from the breakroom. Indulging a little doesn’t hurt…so lighten up! There are simple ways to enjoy holiday treats, like in smaller portions and making healthy substitutions where you can. Planning for merry meals that are also healthy is a recipe for success!

Allow yourself flexibility during this time of year. There will be treats and temptations in every direction, and with a little planning, you can enjoy your favorite foods while still eating sensibly. Dietitians at Chestnut Hill Hospital gathered a few nutrition tips so that you can enjoy a balanced holiday season.

Be consistent in your eating habits. Before heading out to a holiday party remember to eat breakfast, lunch and any of your usual energy boosters throughout the day. Those who skip meals to reserve calories, can end up overeating.

Cook from, and for, the heart. Keep your traditions and make small changes where you can. Use spices, fresh herbs and citrus to flavor foods and drinks instead of excess salt and added sugars. Instead of butter, use a healthier vegetable oil or substitute equal parts unsweetened apple sauce when baking. Try to lighten up some of your favorite recipes like stuffing made with whole grain or cornbread, lean meat (or no meat), nuts (like almonds or walnuts), and lots of fruits and veggies.

Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol increases your appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat. Stay hydrated by having a glass of water, or flavored seltzer, between drinks.

Be buffet savvy. At a buffet, survey your options before piling servings on your plate. By checking out all your options, you might be less inclined to pile on items one after another and better suited to have healthy servings of your favorite items.

Sprinkle in opportunities to be active. Increasing, or at least prioritizing, exercise can be beneficial during the holidays. Parking a little further away, walking when possible can help reduce stress and maintain weight.

Pay attention to what really matters. Although food is an integral part of the holidays, put the focus on family and friends, laughter and cheer. If balance and moderation are your usual guides, it’s okay to indulge occasionally.

For more nutrition tips join Jocelyn Baumgarten, registered dietitian, at Chestnut Hill Hospital’s FREE monthly nutrition series on the third Thursday at 6 p.m. The next session is on Thursday, November 19, and will discuss eating well within a budget. Register today! Visit:

Located in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia and a member of Tower Health, Chestnut Hill Hospital is a 148-bed, community-based, university-affiliated, teaching hospital committed to excellent patient-centered care. Chestnut Hill Hospital provides a full range of inpatient and outpatient, diagnostic and treatment services for people in northwest Philadelphia and eastern Montgomery County. With more than 300 board-certified physicians, Chestnut Hill Hospital’s specialties include minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery, cardiology, gynecology, oncology, orthopedics, urology, family practice and internal medicine. Chestnut Hill Hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission and is affiliated with university-hospitals in Philadelphia for heart and stroke care and residency programs. For more information, visit