The key is to prioritize water, lean protein and complex carbs. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

The holiday season is always a busy time of the year, with decorating, shopping, baking, parties and celebrations.

It’s exciting, but a bit overwhelming. And some of us have a tendency to put on a few extra pounds during this season.

Expectant moms have the added challenge of growing a little person who would love nothing more than a nibble of those chocolate-covered, snowflake-shaped marshmallows, or maybe some of those chocolate-coated pretzels covered in festive holiday sprinkles.

With all that enticing food at the many places you’ll be visiting this month, how can you survive the caloric overload? How can you ensure you’ll make wise choices for you and your growing baby?

Manage the holiday smorgasbord with these handy tips:

Stay hydrated

Proper hydration isn’t just a priority amid the summer heat, when pregnant moms might forget to drink enough water.

It’s something to prioritize year-round, especially when your life is busy—as it typically is around the holidays.

It can’t be said enough: Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Carry that water bottle around with you everywhere. If you don’t have one, put it on your Christmas list.

Also, try to keep an eye on the other types of drinks you encounter:

  • Eggnog tends to be a holiday treat. Just make sure it’s alcohol-free and pasteurized.
  • Cider is fine if pasteurized.
  • Juices are OK, but always take note of the sugar content.

Quality carbs

Sweets abound at the holidays—cookies, confections, candies. Unless you’re on a restricted diet, moderation is the best course.

Complex carbs are your best choice, as they can fill you up and provide many of the vitamins, minerals and fiber you and your baby need. Examples of this would be whole grain breads or pasta.

Some other things to consider:

  • While rice is a good carb, you should be looking for brown rice, which is better for you. It’s a complete grain that has both the germ and the bran.
  • Beans and legumes are good carbs for you. Legumes consist of beans such as black, garbanzo or kidney beans. They also include what most people consider nuts, such as peanuts. Peas and lentils are also part of the legume family.
  • You can mix brown rice and a bean, such as black beans, and have a complete protein.

Get your protein

Ham and turkey are holiday fixtures and they’re both good sources of protein, although turkey has less fat.

Make sure you use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of your turkey, to ensure it’s cooked to at least 165 degrees.

Some other protein points:

  • All meat has protein, but red meats have more fat and less protein than poultry.
  • Fish is another way to get protein and essential fatty acids.
  • Cheese has protein, but you should avoid soft cheeses such as brie, feta and blue cheese.
  • Dairy, used in plenty of holiday foods and beverages, also has protein.
  • Nuts and nut butters are great sources of protein.