Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and for many people, this is their favorite holiday of the year. Why? Family bonding coupled with an abundance of delicious foods! Unfortunately, though, the holiday season tends to add unwanted inches to your waistline. But don’t worry; Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean weight gain! There is an easy way to successfully navigate the Thanksgiving buffet and to fill your plate with delicious, yet healthy, foods. Here are some guidelines to help you enjoy Thanksgiving without sacrificing your weight.
To start, eat a good breakfast before heading out to your Thanksgiving celebration. People often think that it is a good idea to save up their calorie allowance for the big feast, but this is a bad idea. You will be starving by the time the main meal is served, and thus more likely to overindulge. A perfect breakfast would be an egg with whole grain toast or a bowl of oatmeal with low fat or skim milk. Protein and fiber will help to control your hunger and help you to make better choices when the big Thanksgiving meal is served.
Another good idea is to exercise before the big feast. Try to burn off some of those extra calories you will enjoy during the Thanksgiving meal. Take a walk; go for a bike ride or even a hike. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator counts too!
The main course on Thanksgiving is turkey, and fortunately it’s a healthy source of lean protein. You want to eat the white meat and avoid the dark meat and the skin, which have extra fat.
There also are some simple ways to lighten up the classic Thanksgiving dishes. Connie Diekman, RD, recommends using fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and to make gravy. She also recommends using sugar substitutes in place of sugar, and fruit puree instead of oil in baked goods. To lessen oil and butter usage, try using a nonstick fat-free cooking spray to grease pans. Try substituting plain fat-free yogurt for sour cream in dips and casseroles. When it comes to pie, the crust is the most fattening part, so use crushed graham crackers instead.
Be sure to drink plenty of water. This will help fill up your stomach and keep you hydrated. Avoid soda and other fattening drinks like eggnog. Limit your alcohol consumption, too.
Now, when it comes to actually building your plate, be selective and stay aware of portion sizes. Try pairing your white turkey meat with just vegetables. Have some sweet potatoes and a small helping of mashed potatoes, but go easy on the gravy. Stuffing is a classic seasonal dish, so don’t be afraid to indulge; just watch your portion size and take a small amount. You want to invest the majority of your calories in the healthier foods such as the white meat and vegetables, and consume smaller amounts of the more caloric and fattening foods. For dessert, pumpkin pie is your best bet. Remember, everything is okay in moderation!
While eating, chew slowly and thoroughly, and pace yourself. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to register that it is full. Try and resist the urge to go back for seconds. If you take your time and savor each bite, you will feel satisfied and won’t need more. Besides, the leftovers always taste better the next day anyways!
By Emily Borgeest