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Mommy Blogger Dr. Leheska – The Happy Plate Dinner

This is the fourth and final week of the Happy Plate series in honor of National Nutrition Month “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” which encourages the development of a healthful eating plan that incorporates individual food choices and preferences. Click here to for more resources.

I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month

Over the past two weeks I informed you how skipping breakfast and or lunch affect your metabolism and leads to an unhealthy weight. This week we address the issue of eating too much at one time and because so many people skip breakfast and lunch, they often consume a day’s worth of calories or more all at their evening meal. Since this week is Easter I will help you understand how to create a Happy Plate for your family dinner, and how to plan for the sweet temptations that are sure to confront you. The Happy Plate never deprives you of anything, but it guides you to make conscious and healthy choices for a lifetime which is what will enable you to achieve your optimal health. So, let’s review the components of a Happy Plate.

1.    Lean protein 3-5 ounces
2.    Non starchy vegetable
3.    Low-fat dairy
4.    Whole fruit
5.    Modest portion of whole grains

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You might notice that the Happy Plate doesn’t incorporate the delicious cakes, pies and candies that you or someone else may make only on Easter. Even so, it is never a good idea to deprive yourself of your favorite food that you get to have only once a year. Instead, I challenge you to think ahead and decide what it is that you are looking forward to the most.  Then make the decision to allow yourself a modest portion. But BEWARE even modest amounts of luscious desserts will easily add 200 calories to your day. The addition of discretionary calories will break your budget, and doing this over long periods of time causes weight gain. Even if you choose to enjoy Grandma’s Easter Cake you simply need to choose what you will not have in order to allow you this luxury. To keep your plate Happy and balanced you need to switch out a different carbohydrate (anything with starch or sugar) such as rolls, potatoes, fruit, rice, beans, ect… for the cake.

Choosing desserts over a more nutrient rich carbohydrate source will not affect your health in one day. However, if you continually select desserts over nutrient rich food options then you increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies that lead to chronic diseases along with weight gain. Decadent sweets enjoyed with conscious control can be very satisfying and fulfilling. It is a personal choice. Some of my clients choose not to allow themselves any as they understand their personalities and fear they will not be able to stop with only a modest portion. Others are empowered in their ability to control their temptations and know they have control over their decisions. So, it is up to you on how you want to handle it.

We are blessed to entertain my Dad and stepmom from Ohio this weekend. Therefore, I have stocked my fridge with a bunch of fresh veggies, fruits, and lean meats. Typically, I avoid keeping too much bread and sweets at our house with the exception of dark chocolate. However, I have the same innate sense as all of you other mommies out there…I really just want to make everyone happy! So, I broke down and bought some dinner rolls and a breakfast pastry. This may not sound like much, but I know myself and when these sorts of things are in our home I can’t stop thinking about them until they are all gone. And who do you think is most likely to eat them when they are in our home?? Mom! Does this sound familiar to you? I know several of my friends say the same thing. That is why I avoid keeping it in my house.

Here is a rundown of what I will serve for dinner at our house over the next few days:

Good Friday Dinner – Mahi, Mahi, with grilled asparagus and rice pilaf
Saturday Dinner – Meat loaf with roasted fingerling potatoes and green beans
Easter Sunday Dinner – Grilled Lamb chops with salad and roasted veggies, dinner rolls and an almond cake.

How will you create a Happy Plate for your Easter Dinner?
What is your favorite food you look forward to at Easter?

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