On Thanksgiving Day, good eating habits spiral out of control and exercise plans are thrown out the window resulting in undesired weight gain. With a little self-control and a few simple adjustments you can still enjoy the feast without sabotaging your weight.
“Remind yourself how it feels to over-eat,” said Kristen Kizer, a registered dietitian at Houston Methodist Hospital. “Remember there will always be leftovers, so you don’t need to overindulge in one sitting.”
Kizer suggests these tips to maintain a healthy weight and still enjoy the holiday.
1. Trot like a turkey. Incorporate some type of exercise into your Thanksgiving Day. Starting your day with a brisk walk or a 5k road race like the Turkey Trot sets a healthy tone for the rest of your day and is a great way to feel better about indulging in that piece of pie.
2. Eat breakfast. Instead of saving up all your calories for the big meal, eat a small but satisfying breakfast in the morning so you won’t be starving when you arrive.
3. Cut out the casserole. Between the fried onion strings, condensed soup, and canned beans, green bean casserole lacks nutritional value. Leave this unhealthy dish off the Thanksgiving dinner table and replace it with something healthier. Try fresh steamed green beans with some low-fat cheese sprinkled on top or roasted green beans with a little olive oil and fresh garlic.
4. Eliminate the extra sweet. The Pilgrims did not add marshmallows to their sweet potatoes and neither should you. Ditch the marshmallows and brown sugar, and enjoy the natural sweetness of the sweet potato.
5. Slim down your stuffing recipe. Give this classic Thanksgiving side dish a makeover by adding more vegetables like celery, onions and carrots and eliminating fatty meat like sausage.
6. Try something new. Take advantage of some non-traditional fall foods, such as, Brussels sprouts and butternut squash, or try a roasted starchy vegetable medley with baby red potatoes, carrots, onions and acorn squash.
7. Lighten your carb intake. Thanksgiving meals are typically heavy in carbohydrates, so try reducing your carb consumption for the day by replacing mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower. Your guests probably won’t even notice the difference.
8. Enjoy guilt-free dessert. Substitute natural applesauce for oil or butter in your dessert recipes. This simple ingredient swap not only adds moisture and flavor to baked goods, but fiber and nutrients.
9. Choose alcohol or dessert. Before going out to a party decide beforehand to treat yourself with either alcohol or dessert, but not both. If you choose dessert, limit yourself. When it’s time for dessert, pick one treat and enjoy it slowly. There is no need to try every sweet on the table. As for alcohol, choose a drink with lower calories, such as a wine spritzer instead of creamy holiday drinks that can easily pack 500 calories. And remember, moderation is key.
10. Prepare less food. Cut back on the amount of food you prepare for your guests. Instead of fourteen dishes, try pairing down to seven or eight dishes. By doing this you, you can save time and money and avoid eating leftovers for the several days following.
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*Image of “turkey” via Shutterstock