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Create a healthy plate this Christmas

Christmas and New Year’s is a time of year that is filled with sweets, treats, and loved ones. This is the time of year that we seem to be constantly surrounded by every type of goodie imaginable. It is also the time of year when the average American gains 5-10 pounds.

With that said, it is possible to make it through this holiday season without strapping on the pounds with a few easy steps. These simple tips will help you stay healthy and mindful of your food choices so you can enjoy this special time of year with family and friends.

Christmas dinner can take hours to prepare and you and your guests may get hungry while waiting. Set out a vegetable tray with baby carrots, bell pepper strips, raw broccoli, and cauliflower for an appetizer in place of chips and dip. Lighten up Ranch dip for the vegetables by using 2 cups of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt and mixing in 1 packet of Ranch dressing powder mix. This will significantly reduce the calories, while adding extra protein. Lightly salted mixed nuts are another great idea for a healthier appetizer option.

Enjoy holiday treats in smaller portions. Christmas and New Year’s only comes around once a year, so it is okay to indulge in your favorite holiday foods in moderation. Having these treats in smaller portions will help lower your overall calorie intake and allow you to enjoy a wider variety of treats. For example, have a half of a gingerbread cookie instead of a whole gingerbread cookie.

Add color to your Christmas dinner by adding a variety of fruit and vegetable side dishes. Roasting carrots and broccoli is a great way to add color, flavor, and variety to your Christmas dinner. Adding fruits and vegetables will also add fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your meals, which will help keep you feeling fuller longer. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables to create a balanced and filling meal.

Many foods on the Christmas dinner table are packed full of sodium. Fortunately, the amount of sodium used can be easily reduced. Lower the amount of sodium used during meal preparation by using low sodium broths and other low sodium canned goods. Flavor your Christmas dishes with more herbs and spices in place of salt to help reduce sodium intake while also boosting flavor.

Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially since there are more higher sodium and higher sugar foods around. Drinking more water will help keep you hydrated and will also help prevent mindless snacking. Sometimes our bodies tell us we are hungry when really, we are thirsty.

The holiday season is a very special time of the year, but it is important to keep your health a priority. Remember to eat sweets and treats in moderation, make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, reduce sodium by seasoning foods with herbs and spices, and remember to drink plenty of fluids. And most importantly, remember to enjoy this time with loved ones!