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Lighten up your holiday meal

Around this time of year, there are plenty of chances to indulge — from Christmas cookies to an extra glass of wine. Here are some tips to help you stay on track.

  1. Don’t go hungry! Make sure to have a sensible breakfast and lunch before the main holiday meal. Although it can be helpful to “save” some calories for later in the day, make sure you aren’t so hungry that you overeat later. When it comes to appetizers, choose items like raw veggies or whole grain crackers instead of candied nuts or creamy spreads. This massaged kale salad would be a colorful start to any meal.
  2. Contribute to the menu. If you are the host, you can definitely cut back extra butter or salt while prepping the meal, but as a guest you can offer to bring a dish (or two) on the lighter side. Maybe offer to bring these sweet potato puffs or this carrot soufflé.
  3. Choose a smart plate. Thanks to, you can visually divide your plate into four sections — about half should be filled with fruits and vegetables, a quarter should be your meat/protein source (about the size of deck of cards), and the other quarter should be a whole grain. This handy portion control guide can help you estimate.
  4. Lighten up the usual high-calorie suspects. Roast your veggies instead of baking them with butter, cheese, and cream, limit the gravy or sweetened sauces for your meat, and trim off any skin or extra fat if possible.
  5. When it comes to alcohol, practice moderation. Alternate sips of wine with sips of water, and consider offering these holiday cocktails — or mocktails.

Hopefully these tips can help you avoid overindulging, but keep in mind that what you eat between New Year’s and Christmas makes a greater impact on your health than what you eat between Christmas and New Year’s. Savor your time with family and friends — happy holidays!