Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate our blessings, get together with friends and family, and — for many of us — eat past the point of no return.
Thanksgiving dinner can range from 1,500-6,000 calories, with the average person eating about 3,000 calories. Average weight gain during the four-week holiday season is one to five pounds. That may not seem like much until you consider that most people don’t drop the weight after the holidays end, and the pounds add up.
Here are 10 tips to help you tackle Thanksgiving.
- Start the day off with a modest breakfast. It’s understandable to want to “save up” for the big meal, but resist the temptation. Choosing a modest-sized breakfast with protein and whole grains will keep you satisfied and help prevent before-meal munching on rolls and dips.
- Be active. Go for a walk – the morning of, just before dinner, or even just after dinner. The important thing is you’re moving: playing football, not watching football.
- Choose water throughout the day. Limit intake of alcohol and sweetened beverages like soda, juice, or punch. Try adding fresh lemon or lime wedges to your water for added pizzazz.
- Be picky. Only eat what you like and give yourself permission to NOT try everything. Thanksgiving foods can be very rich and heavy, so choosing your foods wisely is key. Evaluate what foods are available and decide what looks and sounds the best to you.
- Choose a smaller plate. When we choose a smaller plate, we trick our eyes and our minds into thinking we are eating more than we actually are. Odds are no matter what size your plate is—you’re going back for seconds, so keep your portions limited. If you can avoid seconds, even better.
- Load up on vegetables… but do it the right way. Many traditional thanksgiving dishes incorporate veggies like sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole, but these are typically calorie laden.
- Instead of green bean casserole try sautéing green beans, mushrooms, onions, and garlic in olive oil. Add some fresh thyme and freshly squeezed lemon juice at the end.
- For a healthier spin on the traditional marshmallow and brown sugar topped sweet potatoes, start by using a skim or 1 percent milk and reducing the amount of sugar and butter added by half. Instead of adding marshmallows, substitute equal parts sautéed dried cranberries, cubed firm pears, and chopped pecans. Add a touch of ginger and brown sugar and spread over your sweet potatoes.
- As a general rule of thumb in most dishes, you can reduce the amount of added fat (butter, oil) and sugar by up to half without sacrificing flavor.
- Eat pumpkin! Pumpkin is packed with nutrients – vitamin A, potassium and fiber. It tastes much like other squashes, so try roasting it and adding salt and pepper to taste.
- If you’re going to do dessert, reach for the pumpkin pie. Better yet, make your own, substituting fat free evaporated milk for the heavy whipping cream and reducing the fat in the crust. If you didn’t make your own pie, choose a small piece and limit the whipped cream on top to help shave calories.
- Slow down. Savor the food you are eating and put your fork down in between bites. Really enjoy what you are putting in your mouth.
- Enjoy your company. The holidays are about friends and family and should be less about food. Focus on visiting with the people who are there that you maybe don’t get to visit with as often.
- Pack it up. Once dinner is over, put away the leftovers and resist the urge to nibble as you put them away.
Spencer, Ali (2014) 10 Healthy Tips to Tackle Thanksgiving. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from http://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/2014/11/10-healthy-tips-to-tackle-thanksgiving/.