With Thanksgiving this Thursday, many people are concerned about trying to stay healthy while also enjoying all the rich, delicious foods and traditions associated with the many celebrations that are or will be soon occurring through the end of the year.

While the issue of maintaining your weight or avoiding weight gain over the holidays is something that many people focus on this time of year, the issue has taken on even more significance for many people this year who’ve already gained weight during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many people are looking for ways to either avoid temptation or make better choices that will allow them to maintain a healthy weight while they navigate all the indulgence of the season.

This season experts recommend creating a daily routine and stick to it through the holidays. The routines should not only include weight management, but also time for your body to generate nourishment and energy that is needed for daily living. Here are some tips to help you meet goals that you may set for yourself during the season:

Use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate dietary guidelines as your guide to healthy eating. MyPlate encourages people to eat more fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, including advocating that people make half of the food on their plate fruits and vegetables.

Fruits, veggies, protein and whole grains help contribute to a feeling of fullness while providing the nutrients our bodies need. Filling up on those foods first might help you eat less of the other, richer foods that you might encounter later.

Celebrate Your Plate (celebrateyourplate.org) has easy, tasty recipes that feature fruits and veggies that you might want to try.

Plan ahead — whether you are packing a lunch or snacks — for your workday. Take snack breaks and a lunch break, taking time away from work or the screen to prepare and eat healthy food, and to get reacquainted with home cooking.

Pay attention to what you bring into your home, planning meals and doing grocery shopping so you have the ingredients to prepare those meals rather than filling up or mindlessly snacking on less healthy foods all day long.

Keep an eye on your portions. In the words of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “enjoy your foods, but eat less.” You can still enjoy those special holiday treats, but keep an eye on the portions and try not to overdo it. Filling up on fruits and vegetables first might help you stick to smaller portions of the richer foods you choose to eat.

Limit your liquid calories. Lots of holiday drinks such as alcoholic beverages, eggnog, and festive coffee drinks contain more calories and sugar than some desserts. So, keep an eye on the beverages that you’re choosing, try to fill up on water first, and then treat those richer drinks more like desserts or sweets.

Lastly, try to understand that not all of your holiday eating habits are going to be perfect, so cut yourself some slack and enjoy the season.

Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent in Parker County.

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