CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Eating healthy for the holidays doesn't have to mean giving up the goodies you love.
Here are three tips to keep your plate in balance from Novant Dietitian Kimberly Spatola.
Take Your Time
"Really just start out by eating slowly," Spatola explained. "That small change can make a big difference in how much you're eating at a meal."
Spatola recommends pausing to fully chew your food and setting down your fork between bites.
"You're really getting more in touch with your hunger and fullness cues," she said. "At the end of the day, that's going to help you still enjoy your meal but probably eat a little bit less."
Watch your portions
When it comes to loading up your plate, she says the answers are in the palm of your hand.
"Everyone's hands are sized to the portions of their bodies," she explained. "So it really kind of works out well to portion things based on your hand size."
Use your fist to measure out starches, and your palm for proteins.
And there's one food group that doesn't need any restrictions at all.
"Of course any vegetables try to load that up on your plate. That's a lot of fiber-rich foods, it's really hard to overeat those foods, so really try to load up on those veggies when you can."
Make tiny tweaks to your favorite recipes
You may be able to cut a little bit of sugar or butter without sacrificing the taste. Meanwhile, there are some ingredients that could be swapped altogether.
"For something like mac and cheese, my favorite swap is instead of using a white pasta noodle is using some of the bean-based pastas. Either a chickpea pasta or a red lentil pasta," she said. "That's going to give you a lot more fiber and protein in the noodle but it's still going to taste exactly the same as what you remember."
Bonus tip: Be forgiving
And even if you do go back for seconds- or thirds- this holiday season, don't feel guilty or punish yourself. Spatola said there is no need to put in extra workouts. The holidays only come around once a year.
"You do not need to earn your holiday meal," she said.
Contact Sarah French at Sarah@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.