When the weather is cold and the days are short, you may be tempted to indulge in calorie-laden winter comfort foods. Traditionally, many of these options are also filled with simple carbohydrates and saturated fat that can cause you to feel sluggish and gain weight. However, with small tweaks to your menu, you can create dishes that are both healthy and cozy.
“Balance is the key to preparing meals that are satisfying and nourishing,” said Alison Huber, a registered dietitian at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Center for Weight Loss Surgery. “If you establish a regular routine of making sound nutritional decisions, you can still enjoy your favorite holiday dishes without feeling deprived.”
Build a Healthier Plate
Your healthy winter meals begin with a plate that is divided into sections filled with the foods your body needs. At each meal, set a goal to:
- Fill one-fourth of your plate with lean sources of protein, such as beans, fish or poultry.
- Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as mushrooms, onions, peppers and spinach.
- Fill one-fourth of your plate with whole grains.
Also, try minimizing your portion sizes and reducing the amount of sugar you use in your cooking.
Swapping out a few key ingredients as you prepare different recipes can help save calories. For example:
- Instead of sour cream, try plain yogurt for a velvety and creamy texture.
- Instead of butter, try heart-healthy olive oil.
- Instead of white rice, choose chopped cauliflower.
By opting for ingredients that are rich with healthy nutrients, you can decrease your intake of fat and sugar while still preparing a delicious meal.
“Your health and diet are not made or broken in one meal or one day,” Huber said. “If you make healthy choices most of the time, you can enjoy special holiday meals. If you look forward to pumpkin pie, have a slice. You can get back on track by eating more vegetables the next day.”
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