FORT GORDON, Ga. (Dec. 9, 2013) -- Eating healthy during the months of October, November and December is challenging but not impossible. The constant stream of holiday festivities and traditions that revolve around food and decreased activity due to the colder weather can quickly add unnecessary calories to your diet that turn into unwanted pounds of body weight.

That extra body weight over time can increase your risk of becoming overweight and increases the risk of obesity related health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea.

Indulging in a few of your favorite holiday foods is perfectly fine but dessert doesn't need to be an essential part of every meal.

The newest healthy eating guidelines from the USDA, 'MyPlate' focuses on filling two quarters of your plate with vegetables and fruit while the remaining quarters are supplied with a protein source and a starch.

Here are some tips to help you stay on track this holiday season:

• Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables like green beans, carrots, leafy greens, and broccoli.
• Save a quarter of your plate for a good lean protein source such as turkey without the skin.
• The last quarter of your plate is for starches. Fill it up with mashed potatoes, peas, cornbread stuffing or a dinner roll.
• Bring your own healthy dish to the party to ensure you will have something delicious and nutritious to eat.
• Don't mingle by the food table at parties. Standing around food will make you more inclined to eat and a lot of little bites can easily add up to more calories than you would have eaten during a sit down meal.
• Don't waste calories on food that is mediocre. If it doesn't taste delicious, don't continue to eat it!
• Freeze cookies and cakes. Don't feel obligated to eat all the baked goods that are given to you at once.
• Alcohol has calories! Opt for light beer and choose low calorie mixers like club soda, lime juice or diet soda. Moderate consumption of alcohol is two drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.
• Eggnog can be made with 2% milk and if you aren't sure what kind it is, have a smaller glass.
• Thirty to 60 minutes of sustained moderate physical activity five days a week is recommended for weight maintenance. It can be harder to get outside during the winter months but don't let the weather keep you from exercise. Find activities that you like to do inside so that you can burn off some of those excess calories.
• Check out a holiday race or fun run. This can be a great way to spend time with family while helping out your community as they usually benefit local charities.

If you are interested exploring the resources on the USDA's 'MyPlate" website you can visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to makeover your holiday plate, find calorie saving ingredient swaps and find healthy recipe ideas.

Page last updated Mon December 9th, 2013 at 00:00