By Stefani Pappas, MS, RDN, CDN, CPT
Easter is a wonderful time to celebrate with friends and family. However, the abundance of food can encourage overeating and overindulging. Learn how to enjoy to keep your health in check and navigate any Easter buffet:
Survey Your Options
When it comes to buffets or family-style eating, it can be tempting to fill your plate with everything offered. Instead, take a minute to scan the buffet or table before placing anything on your plate. Reviewing the options can help you decide which foods to select. Think about those food aren’t available often and add those to your plate instead of wasting calories on items you have access to year-round.
Fill Half Of Your Plate With Vegetables
Vegetables are packed with heart-healthy fiber and water that fills us up more than processed carbohydrates. Load half of your plate with fresh salad and steamed or roasted vegetables. They are a fantastic low-calorie, nutrient-rich option that will keep you satisfied throughout the day. When choosing a dish to bring to your Easter feast, volunteer to toss a large salad or vibrant vegetable crudité to ensure there is a veggie-packed option for all to enjoy.
Remember Your Serving Sizes
You don’t need fancy measuring cups or food scales to determine the appropriate portion size. Instead, just look at your hand! An open palm is equivalent to a serving of about three to four ounces of lean protein such as poultry, fish, shellfish, or beef. A tight fist equals approximately one cup, which should be the limit of cooked pasta, rice, or a medium-sized baked potato. An ounce of cheese is approximately the size of your thumb, and one teaspoon of a high-fat food such as mayonnaise or butter is similar in size to the tip of your thumb. Keep in mind that larger plates may make you midjudge portion sizes and lead to overeating. If you can, try placing your food on a smaller dish such as a salad plate.
Between preparing food for an Easter feast or getting involved in an Easter egg hunt, it is easy to forget about drinking water. Hydration is crucial for regulating body temperature, boosting immunity, aiding metabolism, and assisting in weight management. Be sure to drink lots of fluids before, during, and after any festivities. Drink two glasses of water first thing in the morning, and try to take a few sips of water with your dinner meal. Since you’re want to stay hydrated, be careful with caffeinated and alcoholic beverages which can dehydrate the body. Opt for a water with lemon or naturally-flavored seltzer with your meal.
If you are enjoying an Easter buffet this weekend, now is the perfect time to implement some of these strategies. However, these tips are great for any function.
Stefani Pappas, MS, RDN, CDN, CPT, is a clinical dietitian nutritionist at St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Hospital®.