Thanksgiving Survival Guide:
10 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving
By Melody Foster
Fall weather has finally rolled in, the air is crisp and fresh, leaves are falling and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
Did you know Americans consume an average of 4,500 calories at their Thanksgiving feast? If you’re trying to keep an eye on your waistline, you may be worried about how to make it through the holidays without regrets. Here are 10 tips to help you have a healthy thanksgiving.
Fill up before the big meal. Eat a healthy breakfast, drink plenty of water, and have a healthy snack before it’s time for the big feast.
Watch your portions. It’s easy to overdo it on Thanksgiving. Avoid grazing and use a smaller plate to help keep your portion sizes small. Start by eating your protein and veggies. Save the starches and sweets for last.
Savor each bite. Put your fork down between each bite and take time to be grateful for the food in front of you. Chew each bite thoroughly. Eating slowly gives your brain time to send the signal that your stomach is full. Eat too quickly and you’ll likely miss that signal until it’s too late and you’re stuffed.
Stop when you’re full. Your turkey should be stuffed — not you. The purpose of Thanksgiving isn’t to gorge yourself; enjoy your meal, but remember, there will always be leftovers.
Add flavor with seasonings and broth, not fat. Use fat-free chicken broth to baste your turkey and make your gravy instead of butter.
Skip the skin. Eating the skin can double the fat content of your meat and significantly increase calories. Remember, light meat has fewer calories but less iron than dark meat.
Make healthy substitutions. If a recipe calls for sugar, substitute it with pure honey instead. Honey is a natural sweetener that can be substituted 1:1 in most recipes. Fruit puree, such as applesauce, can be subbed for oil in baked goods, and plain yogurt is a healthy alternative to sour cream in dips, mashed potatoes and casseroles.
Eat your calories don’t drink them. Stay hydrated with water or tee and avoid alcohol or sodas that pack on what we call “empty calories.”
Be active. Exercise first thing in the morning, and then after the big meal, get outside and play a game of flag football with the family, or go for a brisk walk before you veg out on the couch to watch the football game. Better yet, plan for the whole family to participate in the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot before the Thanksgiving day feast.
Focus on weight maintenance, rather than weight loss. With the celebrations and the stress of the holidays, thinking too much about trying to lose weight during the holidays will only add stress, which can in turn lead to weight gain. Instead, simply focus on maintaining your weight by exercising and eating smart.
Need a little help planning your Thanksgiving Day menu? Here are a few suggestions from Nicholson Clinic.
Remember, the holidays are more about relishing the time you have with family and friends, rather than the food. Keep an attitude of gratitude and savor the time you have to spend with loved ones.
About the Author
Melody Foster is a Dallas-based freelance writer and contributing author to the Nicholson Clinic blog. Melody researches and creates content for clients in industries ranging from health care, fitness and nutrition to interior decorating, legal and social good.