The American Heart Association has designated November as Eat Smart Month and encourages Americans to take the first step to commit to healthier eating. But with November comes the season for holiday meals and sweet treats. This can make eating healthy this time of year a bit of a challenge.

But don’t worry. Try these tips to help keep you on track and feeling great:

  • Cut the sugar: Research continues to show that Americans consume entirely too much sugar and the effects can increase the chance for obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure—all of which can give you a higher probability of having heart disease or a stroke. Skipping dessert is a wise choice, but you should also cut out sugary soft drinks and juices. And be on the lookout for added sugar in processed foods.
  • Eat those fruits and veggies: Fruit and vegetables contain important vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables can help protect you against cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
  • Watch out for sodium: Sodium amounts tend to sneak up in so many foods and increased sodium levels can have negative health effects. When possible, buy “low” or “no sodium” vegetables and switch to a salt substitute. Try seasoning with lemon juice, herbs and spices to add flavor to your food.
  • Limit the fat: Eating more fruits and vegetables as well as lean meat and fish is a great place to start. You should also choose fat-free or reduced-fat dairy items when possible. Limit the fat you cook with and always choose healthy oils when needed.
  • Drink up! Water makes up a majority of our body weight and is vital to many of our organs/bodily functions. Most people only get about 20 percent of their daily water intake from food. So, drinking additional water and water-based beverages is necessary. Strive to drink 80 to 100 ounces of water daily for proper hydration and for your overall health.

Don’t let the upcoming holidays derail your eating habits for the entire month. Aim to make healthy choices every day and you’ll reap the benefits of better health now and in the year to come!