The holiday season may feel like an endless buffet of sweet treats and savory family favorites, and as such, it’s easy to see how the holidays often mean weight gain. But adding extra pounds doesn’t have to be part of your holiday tradition.
It is possible to enjoy the holidays while watching your waistline, and most importantly, your health. Here are some tips to help you tackle holiday food the healthy way.
Use a smaller plate. The key is to control portion size, and the easiest way to do so is to start with a smaller plate.
Fill up with fruits and veggies. Half of your plate should be dedicated to fruits and vegetables. Both men and women should eat about four and a half cups of fruits and veggies every day, which comes down to one and a half cups per meal (assuming you eat three meals a day).
Get your protein—but not too much. One-quarter of your plate should be lean protein (think chicken, turkey or fish). One serving of meat is equal to three ounces, so keep your cut to approximately the size of a deck of cards. Go for lighter-colored meat (white instead of dark meat), and skip the skin.
Limit starchy foods. Mashed potatoes, breads, stuffing and other starchy foods should make up no more than one-quarter of your plate. To cut more calories, substitute mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes.
Taste desserts, don’t devour them. When it comes to sweets, choose one from the endless options and stick to a small serving. Try to pick the healthiest option to keep your calorie count low.
Eat meals, don’t graze. Holiday parties are notorious for the endless arrays of appetizer and finger foods. While they may be delicious, these foods also make it easier to graze for hours rather than filling up with one meal. All those little bites of food add up quickly, so plan to eat a meal rather than a little bit here and a little bit there for hours on end.
Remember that the holidays are about more than the food. The most important secret to enjoying the holidays the healthy way is to place the focus on spending time with friends and family rather than food. Take the spotlight off the food and instead simply enjoy being with your loved ones playing games, sharing gifts and having good conversation.
It is possible to have a healthy holiday season, but it takes a bit of effort. Make a game plan before you hit up the next holiday party so you’ll be ready to enjoy the festivities without overdoing it on food.
For more on holiday nutrition, contact Goshen Health's team of nutrition experts.