5 nutrition tips for a healthy holiday plate

When do the holidays start for you? Is it October 1st when you pull out the fall decorations and start dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes? Perhaps it’s Halloween when candy, and the excuse to eat it, is everywhere. Maybe you even hold off until the office Thanksgiving potluck, but even then your holiday season may last from mid-November until the first full week in January.

Holiday season and the plethora of sweet and savory indulgences that tags along may extend for almost a quarter of the year! If you’re tired of the painful, uncomfortable feeling that may accompany your holiday meals and don’t want to start 2015 several pounds up on the scale, consider some of these ideas for a healthier plate.

Simplify. Whether you’re cooking or not, try reducing the number of dishes. Do you really need green bean and asparagus casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta salad, turkey and ham? It’s a lot easier to shop, prepare, and serve six or seven dishes compared to a dozen, plus you’ll help your guests limit their plates, too.

Baked sweet potato
Eliminate sugary extras from dishes. For example, instead of a sweet casserole, bake your sweet potatoes and garnish them with herbs.

Eliminate the extras. Does the sweet potato casserole really need a full cup of brown sugar plus marshmallows and crushed-up corn flakes? Try baked sweet potatoes with butter, brown sugar, and nuts on the side. This gives your guests control.

Careful with carbs. Thanksgiving is a carbohydrate nightmare! Rolls, stuffing made with more bread, cranberry sauce, applesauce, potatoes in all forms and colors, perhaps some crackers and cheese beforehand, and before dessert has even begun you’re well over what your body needs. Instead, take an extra slice of turkey, a lean meat, and pile up the vegetables.

Holiday meals have lots of carbs. For a healthier plate, opt for more lean protein and vegetables Click To Tweet

Be selective. Whether it’s setting parameters around snacking on treats in the break room, like only indulging on Fridays, or deciding to have either alcohol or dessert but not both, make your food choices wisely. Save room for the dishes you really enjoy and skip the ones you know aren’t a favorite.

Leave space. Try to leave white space on your plate as you’re adding on your favorite dishes. Don’t let your food touch and don’t pile on layer after layer. Leaving space on your plate will help leave space in your stomach, too!

So much goes into a healthy holiday, from the right food choices, to sticking with your exercise routine. Remember the holidays were originally just a day or two (not several months) and it’s refreshing to start the New Year feeling healthy and satisfied rather than lethargic and disappointed. The energy you’ll get from successfully navigating the holidays will be worth those changes you’re considering!

Looking to cut back on the carbs during the holidays? Check out our low-carb Pinterest recipe board

Follow Houston Methodist’s board Low-Carb Recipes on Pinterest.