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5 Tips To Balance Your Plate This Christmas (Without Counting Calories)

By Amber Charles, MSPH, RDN

December 14, 2020

Maybe you're wondering how to enjoy your Christmas foods this year without guilt, fear of weight gain and regret. I've got you covered!

We're about to enter the Christmas/New Year's food cycle.

What is that?

Oh, it's when we indulge in our favorite Christmastime foods, then feel guilty about eating "those foods" and become very determined to start a diet on January 1 to "detox" and "undo" our Christmas indulgences.

Sounds familiar?

Can we not do that this year please? If there's anything 2020 has taught us is to be thankful for everything and to savor our moments.

Let's. remove. the. shame. from. eating. Especially for our cultural foods. I've got you!

In this post:

  • Start with carbs

  • Add protein

  • Think about veggies & fiber

  • Don't fear the fat

  • Off the plate: beverages

Step 1: Start with carbs

Repeat with me: "carbs are not the enemy"! Carbohydrates are our main source of energy, primarily for the brain, and are found in fruits, vegetables, peas/beans and dairy/dairy products.

Make a carbohydrate food the base of your meal, (e.g. festive rice). If you're having multiple carbohydrate foods (plantain + rice + potato salad etc.), take a little of each at any given time and fill ~1/4 of your plate with them.

Step 2: Add protein

Next, add your protein sources, whether animal- or plant-based. Protein is an essential nutrient that transports fats, vitamins & minerals in the body, and plays key roles in fluid balance and hormone production.

Again, if you're having multiple sources of protein, add a little of each to your plate and fill another ~1/4 of your plate. A little goes a long way and these food combos are sure to fill you up quickly.

Step 3: Think about veggies & fiber

Have them raw or cooked - but definitely not boring! We. don't. do. boring. over. here (unless boring is 'your thing'). Non-starchy vegetables (tomato, pumpkin, lettuce etc.) and fruits are excellent sources of fiber and essential micronutrients.

Fiber adds bulk/roughage that helps to keep your bowel movements regular (everyday please) and "sweeps" the blood vessels, cleaning up any "bad cholesterol", so you'd definitely want to make these ~1/2 of your plate.

Step 4: Don't fear the fats

Cooking oil, butter/margarine, avocado, peanut/almond butter, nuts and seeds are some common food sources of fats. Fats add flavor to food and are needed for the body to absorb fat-soluble essential nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K.

Great benefits, right? So, don't fear eating fats or feel guilty about them. Be mindful of your sources by choosing unsaturated fats over saturated fats when possible.

Step 5: Off your plate - your drinks

An often-forgotten part of the meal - beverages. If you're not the type to drink while you eat, this may not apply to you, but for many, "washing down" that bite of food with sorrel is a delight!

Fluids fill your stomach faster, leaving little room for the food on your plate and makes it easier to overeat (aka feel stuffed and bloated).

Tip: either drink 20 mins before or after your meal, or sip slowly during your meal and be aware of your fullness signals...

Mindset shift!

We do not need to subject ourselves to #dietculture in 2021! There's no need to start a "diet" for the new year or detox from your cultural Christmas foods!

Eat mindfully, listen to your body, move your body often, make sure you're addressing any medical conditions appropriately and do. a. little. bit. every. day. towards attaining your health goals.

Season's Greetings. Xoxo - The Cultural Dietitian

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