Thanksgiving. It’s a wonderful time of year with crisp, cool weather, beautiful colors outside and a cornucopia of delicious foods. But the holiday is often responsible for two unwanted side effects: stress and a few extra pounds.
It’s hard to reign yourself in when it comes to cooking those special, family-favorite dishes AND eating them. While it’s tempting to prepare everything “just like Grandma did,” it will definitely be better for everyone’s health if you don’t.
Having a healthier Thanksgiving starts in the kitchen with how and what you prepare and doesn’t end until the last of the leftovers have exited the refrigerator.
So how can you keep yourself from pigging out too much this year? We hope these tips will help!
- Consider a turkey breast. Unless you have a huge crowd, a whole turkey (or multiple turkeys – fried, smoked and baked, anyone?) will mean lots of leftovers. A turkey breast will cook faster and give you about three pounds of healthy, solid white meat.
- Swap out the seasonings. Instead of weighing your dishes down with salt, oil and butter, add much more flavor by seasoning with herbs, wine, mild-flavored juice or low-sodium broth.
- Let your vegetables shine. Don’t add lots of stuff to your veggie side dishes this year. Simply steam beans, roast Brussels sprouts or serve unadorned sweet potatoes. No marshmallows needed!
- A different kind of dessert. Instead of making 5 traditional pies, make one tray of mini-tarts in different flavors. If you do have leftovers, these will freeze well and can be used on other special occasions.
- The great plate debate. Instead of pulling out the big 10-inch dinner plates, use smaller 8-inch plates that will help people naturally choose smaller portions. Only provide dessert-size plates for dessert.
- Quality over quantity. There are a thousand dishes you could make, but pick just a few and make them really well. This will keep you from having more food than your family and guests can eat and cut down on leftovers.
- Start the day right. Eat a healthy breakfast on Thanksgiving morning and snack on healthy, filling foods if the big meal is later in the day. If you fast until the turkey comes out, you’ll be much more likely to overindulge.
- Stay hydrated. Drink water all day so you don’t confuse hunger with thirst. If you’re going to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving, ask for a glass of water once you arrive to help you feel full.
- Don’t make the day all about food. Instead of putting out tons of snacks to nibble on or heading straight to the appetizer table, spend time greeting everyone, catching up and meeting new people.
- Eat your veggies first. Fill half your plate with vegetables since they tend to be lower in calories and packed with nutrients.
- Think about what you love most. You don’t have to fill your plate with every dish on the table. Sample small portions of your favorites so you can enjoy the indulgence without feeling guilty. Eat any unhealthy treats last, after you’ve filled up on the more nutritious dishes.
- Stay busy after you eat. Rather than heading to the sofa to zone out with football or movies, help clean up in the dining room or kitchen. Then, take a post-dinner walk. Try to get everyone to head outside with you.
iChooseB is Brookwood Baptist Medical Center’s new online community where Birmingham women of all ages gather to share their stories, pictures and experiences with each other. From hospital stays and pregnancy questions to health, wellness and nutrition information, there’s something for every woman at iChooseB.com. Whether you’re welcoming new life into the world, learning to take better care of yourself or just celebrating life as a woman, you’ll find others just like you at iChooseB.com.
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