With holiday celebrations upon us more and more people become aware of what’s on their plate and what the scale says (which, by the way, the scale does not and should not dictate what is on your plate!). It can be confusing to know how to enjoy your favorite holiday foods when you know the scale is going to go up after the new year (remember, does not and should not matter! But I digress). I have created a diagram of how you can build your plate at the holiday dinner table. This way, you have a formula to include healthful foods while also enjoying holiday dishes you have been looking forward to!
First tip that is shown on the diagram is to make half of your plate consist of non-starchy vegetables. Adding lots of these to your plate ensures that you are consuming carbohydrates, adequate fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Examples of how you can include non-starchy vegetables as half of your plate include having a side salad, steamed green beans, coleslaw, roasted brussels sprouts, cooked broccoli, and bok choy just to name a few.
Looking at the other half of the plate, one quarter should be made up of your starchy vegetables. Starchy vegetables provide more fiber as well as a greater source of carbohydrates, the macronutrient our bodies need to create energy for our cells and bodily functions (fun fact: our brain’s primary source for energy is carbohydrates!). If you are having potatoes this holiday season in any form, take note that leaving skins on potatoes adds some extra fiber! Examples of starchy vegetables that are great for your plate include white potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green peas, squashes, and carrots. In the starchy vegetable category, grains also fit here because of their starch content! If you don’t want potatoes or carrots with your side salad, you can add whole grain rice, rice berry, or quinoa just to name a few.
The last quarter of your plate should be your protein source. If you like to eat meat or seafood, this is the spot! Beef, pork, poultry, lamb, shellfish, fish are all great protein options. If you prefer plant-based protein, that is also great! In this section you can have lentils, beans, tempeh, tofu, edamame, or chickpeas to name several options. Fun fact, quinoa can act as both a starch and a protein option! It is one of the few grains that contain all nine essential amino acids which makes it a complete protein. Just be sure to consume enough to meet your needs if you plan on using quinoa as your only protein source at that meal. If you don’t think you are able to do that, then add some of another protein source to your dish.
The Bottom Line
The holiday season is meant to be enjoyed, and that may includ