How to help your patients make healthy food choices this holiday season

By Karin Johnson, PhD, research associate at Group Health Research Institute It’s holiday time. And with the holidays come a million opportunities to indulge in delicious, but sometimes unhealthy, foods. It can be a particularly challenging time for people with high blood pressure who are trying their best to make healthy food choices. What can primary care providers do to help patients stick to their plan to eat healthy during the holidays? As an amateur foodie who likes to eat healthy, I’m excited to let you know about a great resource: heart-healthy holiday recipes available from the Million Hearts® initiative. Led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, this national initiative aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 by providing both patients and physicians with tools and resources to help improve cardiovascular health. The holiday recipes available from Million Hearts take a healthier spin on some classic holiday favorites. I have a fondness for sweet potatoes with marshmallows, but the meringue-topped sweet potatoes are a healthier and still tasty alternative. From herb-roasted turkey to green bean casserole, your patients with hypertension will find a wide variety of healthy recipes ready for the making. There are even desserts like pear crumble and glazed chocolate-pumpkin bundt cake. Yum. In addition to holiday recipes, Million Hearts provides a searchable catalog of other heart-healthy recipes and even a customized meal planning tool that will guide your patients through 28 days worth of healthy food choices. It’s one-stop shopping for people who need a little help with planning and cooking healthier meals. So when your patients ask for advice on how they can stick to a healthy diet—especially through the holidays—you can point them to Million Hearts and its many hands-on resources. Now pass that pear crumble, please! Know of another great resource that can help patients eat healthier? Please let us know by logging in and leaving a comment.

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