Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving Holiday

by Zohaib Baig on November 25, 2019

thanksgiving turkey dinnerDoes the idea of a healthy Thanksgiving menu sound like an oxymoron? It is possible to enjoy this holiday meal while still keeping your goals top of mind. With a little foresight and planning, you can have a holiday that's equally healthy and delicious. Follow these tips to enjoy your day while looking out for your waistline:

  1. Develop a plan of attack. As they say, fail to plan and you plan to fail.  That means you need to anticipate temptations and how you’ll handle them.  Make it a point to eat a hearty breakfast or lunch earlier  in the day, so you don’t show up ravenous and make poor decisions when the turkey is served.
  2. Lighten up. Certain foods are naturally more tempting than others, especially if you enjoy comfort foods. In general, watch out for the appetizers. High-calorie , fat-filled dips and munchies can add up in calories before you even sit down for the main course. 
  3. Make smart choices. Speaking of the main course, when it comes to the turkey, opt for white meat without skin as it’s less fattening. Though a Thanksgiving staple, gravy adds a bunch of unnecessary calories to your total. Instead of smothering your reasonable serving of white meat and potatoes with gravy, adding just enough for a taste will save you calories now to enjoy later.
  4. Lead by example. If you’re cooking and your family and friends aren’t necessarily watching what they eat, you have some agency to modify your go-to Thanksgiving menu dishes and stay on track at the same time. For example, you can replace the butter and cream in mashed potatoes with broth, evaporated skim milk or reduced fat sour cream for a tasty and lighter version. Sides offer more opportunities to cut calories without sacrificing taste. Instead of the usual green bean casserole, serve sauteed green beans with almonds. You might try to serve healthier plant-based versions of your favorite sweets. No one said healthy has to be bland! Your guests might not notice the missing calories, sugar or fat!
  5. Follow tried-and-true weight management tips. Thanksgiving may present more opportunities to splurge than usual, but the reality is relying on everyday healthy habits can set you up for success. For example, avoid going crazy on the bread basket. Beyond salt, sugar and fat, ultra-processed foods can cause overeating and related  weight gain. Eat slowly to savor your food and avoid second helpings when possible. Drink a glass of water before the meal. It’s been proven that you consume fewer calories when you are hydrated. A lot of the times when we think we’re hungry, our body is actually telling us we’re actually thirsty. 
  6. Drink wisely. Don't forget that calories from alcohol add up more quickly than you can say “pinot grigio.” Plus, alcohol is dehydrating, which means it can cause water retention and bloating. If plain water isn’t exciting, consider soda water or adding a low-calorie flavoring to keep things interesting.
  7. Indulge a little. Remember that most things are OK in moderation. Watch your portion sizes, and you should be fine. Don’t refuse dessert, just ask for a half portion and celebrate smart eating with the sweet treat.

Following these tips can help you leave the dinner table feeling satisfied and happy, rather than bloated and guilty. And don't forget to celebrate family, friends and the holiday. Give thanks for all the good things in your life, including your fitness commitment.

If you've got other tips on how to manage healthy eating during the holiday season, Zo and Bryce would love to hear about them on Facebook or Instagram

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