We are knee-deep in the season of total gluttony. You can hear the dips calling your name, the cider and wine and eggnog and cookies and PIE! The PIE! Everything this season is covered in cheese and cream, and it is one giant conspiracy to get us to buy bigger sweaters. The naps alone this holiday season, yeesh.

So, how do you combat the elastic-waist onslaught? First, if you are anything like me, you’re a little rusty on portion sizes and VERY foggy on what constitutes a serving of fruit or vegetables. Never fear! CHOW has this handy visual guide you can keep in mind to keep that slowly expanding waistline in check. (Your spring vacation plans will thank you.)

As for targeted holiday advice, here are four things you can do to keep from losing yourself in the buffet.

1. EAT THE COOKIES

I’m not suggesting skipping any holiday favorites or abstaining from sweets. Instead, try a little of everything you crave AS LONG AS you consume the recommended servings of fruits AND vegetables each day. It sounds overwhelming, but with that little guide we mentioned above, it’s much easier than you think.
Photo from CHOW’s Holiday Cookies Recipe Gallery

2. EAT A CARROT

The vitamins and minerals you get from vegetables will keep you feeling energized instead of sleepy, they’ll boost your immune system and protect you from getting the sicks this winter, and they’ll help your skin and hair look healthy and glowing for the family selfies. Plus they help prevent serious diseases like cancer and diabetes and fill you up so you don’t eat the WHOLE pie. In one sitting.

3. EAT THE APPLE

Breaking it down, it’s pretty easy: The USDA suggests two servings of fruit per day. That’s it. So easy. Have a banana in the morning and slather an apple with a little almond butter in the afternoon and YOU ARE DONE! Check out our visual guide to see what else counts as a serving of fruit.

4. EAT A SALAD

Recipe and photo of Kale-Apple Coleslaw with Poppy Seed Dressing from CHOW

Now vegetables feel like they’ll be harder, right? Wrong! Fall produce is chock-full of winter greens, sweet potatoes, less-than-decorative gourds, even Brussels sprouts. And once again, it’s just an easy 2 1/2 to 3 cups per day depending on gender and age. How hard is that? It’s a salad with a sliced tomato on top at lunch and some roasted cauliflower at dinner.

Make these four things happen, and you can pretty much eat all of the pie.

To simplify all of this information, the USDA stopped using servings and switched to cups, so 1 cup equals 1 serving. There are a few exceptions, like in the leafy greens category or dried fruit, but for the most part this rule holds.

Now get out your Thanksgiving (or in this case, Christmas) pants and make Michelle Obama proud. Happy holiday eating season!

(But seriously, for more information, check out the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov site and our Visual Guide to How Many Fruits and Vegetables you should be eating.)
Header image from The Epoch Times

Vanessa W. Simmons is a former cook living in San Francisco, helping to run a food business. She’s probably hungry, but if not she could eat.
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