| For the Daily Commercial
This time of year brings about holiday meals and family food traditions that often lead to increased calories. We frequently pile on extra servings of our favorite foods during the holiday season, only to then make the New Year’s resolution to start choosing healthier foods. This year, why not enjoy your holiday favorites while incorporating healthier choices too.
In leading up to a holiday meal, don’t skip meals becau your body needs a balance of food to give you energy throughout the day to be able to function and complete daily activities. By skipping meals, you will go into the next meal starving, which will cause you to overeat and your body will not be able to process all that you are consuming.
When eating use a 9” or smaller plate to help control your portion sizes. To build your plate visually divide it into three sections. First, fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Start with salads, then add other vegetables focusing on those that are steamed or roasted. Fresh or dried herbs and spices can add flavor without adding calories. Choose appetizers and sides that contain fruit for added nutrition.
When selecting your fruits and vegetables make sure to vary the color, as this will provide different vitamins and minerals and health benefits. Next, add the protein of your choice to one quarter of your plate. Try to select lean meats, trim off any fat, and remove the skin. Go easy when adding sauces and gravies, remember a little goes a long way.
Don’t miss out on the flavors of your food by covering them up while adding extra calories to your plate. Next, add grains to the final quarter of your plate. Focus on whole grains, sides made with whole wheat flour, whole cornmeal and brown rice. These healthy choices contain more fiber which aid in digestion and add to the health of your heart. Finally, don’t forget the dairy to round out your balanced plate.
After eating, take time to enjoy conversation, with those around you, to let your food digest before rushing back for seconds. After any meal, not just a holiday meal, it’s a great time to take a walk with the family around the neighborhood to take in physical activity and aid in digestion. When its time for dessert choose one and save one for the next day.
Decrease the food that is wasted and enjoy leftovers by freezing into single serve meals to enjoy holiday favorites well after the special day. Following these mealtime strategies will help you focus on enjoying family time as you make healthier choices through the holiday season.
An Equal Opportunity Institution. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. Single copies of UF/IFAS Extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available free to Florida residents from county UF/IFAS Extension offices.
Lori Johnson is the UF/IFAS Extension Lake County Family & Consumer Science Agent 1. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org