Healthy eating this holiday season

How to enjoy the holiday but still eat healthy

DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - It’s the season of giving and good eating. As you prepare for your holiday feast there are a couple of things you can do to stay healthy.

You typically average about 300-500 calories a meal, depending on your diet, but if you’re not careful - that number can dangerously triple when you pull up to the table for Christmas dinner. It’s based on how much you eat, what you put on your plate, and your eating schedule earlier in the day.

It’s tempting to skip meals to have lots of room in your stomach for your favorites at dinner, but dietitians warn that’s not the best idea.

“It’s important not to skip meals on days of big feasts because your blood sugar levels will fluctuate,” said Jostlyn Bonhard, dietitian at Southeast Health. “Keep your meals around the same time you typically eat them throughout the day so by the time you get to your dinner you’re not starving and going after all these foods that could set you off track.”

As you’re making your plate, it’s helpful to think about portion. One way to make sure you’re not overindulging is to imagine a line going down the middle of your plate. On one side your starches and your protein. On the other side your vegetables.

And when you’re thinking about dessert - your hand could be your guide.

“No bigger than the palm of your hand for the portion size,” said Bonhard. “Pick pumpkin pie. It’s a lot better nutritionally than something like pecan pie. It has a lot more sugar and fat than pumpkin pie would because pumpkins are a vegetable.”

Susan Avello is a personal chef in Dothan and runs Lean Bean Chef. She said about half her calls around the holiday season are from people looking to make eating overhauls in the new year. She said there are things that you can do as early as Christmas dinner to make healthy eating changes.

Including swapping mashed potatoes for cauliflower mash or changing the types of staples used in holiday favorites.

“Use gluten-free pasta if you’re going to do mac & cheese,” said Avello, “When you get cheese, go to organic cheese or vegan cheese. I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but baby steps is important to remember when going healthy.”

Healthy eating goes beyond just Christmas dinner. Avello suggests setting yourself up for success by dividing and storing your holiday meal.

“I’m going to take my leftover Brussels sprouts and pair them with my leftover pork and I’m going to put them in my individual container. Portion control for what I really need to eat for lunch not what I really think I might want,” said Avello.

If you’re looking for recipes on holiday dinner healthy swaps, you can visit, You can also contact Avello at 334-400-9000 or visit

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