How to Tackle Thanksgiving Day in a Healthy Way!

Get Ready for the Holiday Season:  How to Tackle Thanksgiving Day in a Healthy Way!

Thanksgiving can be a dangerous day for those watching their weight and working on eating healthier.  Temptations of gooey pecan pie and dense sweet potatoes topped with crackly marshmallows make it seem impossible to be disciplined.  But eating healthy on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you must forgo all your favorite foods!

Football players aren’t the only ones who should have a game plan for Thanksgiving. Being prepared is the key component for success on the field and at the dining room table.  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 a few simple tips to leave you feeling thankful instead of “Thanksgiving full” this year.

  • Get creative. There’s no need to remove your favorite traditional dishes from the menu just because they aren’t the best for you. Instead, create healthier versions of holiday classics that can still be enjoyed. Swap out an ingredient for a healthier alternative (like whole-wheat stuffing) or revamp a classic (think cauliflower mashed potatoes).
  • Eat other meals as usual. Eating fewer calories for the Thanksgiving meal may seem like a good idea, but it tends to backfire. When we’re hungry, it’s easy for even the most disciplined diner to lose control. Add in the intoxicating aromas of favorite meals, and a disaster is right around the corner. Improve self-control by eating a meal or small snack beforehand.
  • Hydrate. Our bodies often confuse hunger and thirst, so drinking enough fluids is essential. Stick to options that are sugar-free, such as water, seltzer with a twist of lemon or unsweetened tea. We want to eat our calories, not drink them.
  • Location. Location. Location. Proximity to food makes a big difference. To avoid snacking, picking or hastily taking seconds, place yourself at a safe distance away from where food is being served. Have a favorite dish? Don’t sit in front of it at the table. Passing it down the table is a great way to avoid mindlessly going in for a second helping.
  • 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.
  • 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.  By slowing down and paying attention, we naturally eat less and enjoy our meal even more.

Making a conscious effort to follow this advice will help make your Thanksgiving Day a healthy one, and make your body thankful as well.  Most importantly, enjoy the company of friends and family. Take the focus off the food and put it back where it really belongs: on our loved ones.