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healthy for the holidays challenge

Eat healthy foods in this holiday season

Eat healthy foods in this holiday season

When tables overflow with delicious food at holiday celebrations, healthy eating can certainly be a challenge. But it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your favorite foods. Instead, try using a few simple strategies to make your holiday meals healthier and eat healthy foods in this holiday season.

SERVING IT UP

Start smaller. Using a smaller plate helps you easily control the size of your portions because it takes less food to fill it up. Want a variety of foods on your plate? Simply serve yourself smaller portions.

Fill up first with vegetables and salad. Starting your meal with a salad can help you feel full and eat fewer calories. Just take it easy on salad dressings and creamy sauces that can pack on calories.

Avoid the dark side – of the turkey – that is! The lighter pieces of meat have fewer calories and fat. You can shave off a few more calories by also removing the skin.

Slow the gravy train. While gravy can add an extra splash of flavor, it also comes with an extra helping of fat. So slow down the amount you pour. A little can go a long way.

Save a plate for later. Don’t feel obligated to try everything at one meal. Make yourself a plate for later with the foods you didn’t eat the first time around.

EATING IT MINDFULLY

Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t deprive yourself of food. Letting yourself to get too hungry can actually cause you to overeat later. On the other hand, if you’re not hungry when food is served, just wait until you are.

Take time to really taste and savor your food. Eating slowly allows your body time to tell your brain that you’re full. Try waiting 10 minutes before going back for seconds to see if you’re still hungry.

Pay attention to what and how much you eat. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can be easy to lose track of what you have eaten. Cut back on distracted eating by making time to sit down and eat rather than grabbing food to eat on the go.

Divvy up desserts. To keep from eating a full serving of dessert, try splitting it with someone else. If you want to taste more than one, take only small samples of two or three of your favorites.

Rethink your drink. Calories can add up fast with traditional holiday beverages like hot chocolate, eggnog, and alcohol. Make these an occasional treat and opt for lower-calorie beverages like flavored water, tea or sugar-free cider instead.

BURNING IT OFF

Get active! After your meal, get up and get moving. Whether it’s taking a walk, shooting some hoops or playing a game of catch, all activity will burn off some of those extra calories you’ve eaten.

The Christmas season only comes around once a year so it’s fine to enjoy — and indulge — in your holiday favorites. The key is balancing higher calorie and fat options with lower ones, keeping in portion sizes moderate and eating a variety of foods from all five groups (fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy, and grains) to ensure a nutritionally adequate intake while enjoying delicious holiday fare.

Cookie image courtesy of Mister GC & turkey image courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net