Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving
Last updated: Nov 14, 2012
By Joy Pierce Mathews for Summit Medical Group
Reviewed by Susan C. Canonico, RD
Here are some tips for keeping your Thanksgiving holiday sensible and healthy!
Eating a sensible, filling breakfast can make it easier to avoid snacking that often adds up to unwanted calories. For this reason, it's best to greet the day with a hearty whole-grain cereal or steaming bowl of oatmeal. Add fresh blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries for a fiber-filled topping packed with age-defying antioxidants. Pour on low-fat milk or plop a tablespoon of fat-free plain yogurt on top for added calcium and vitamin D
Take time before you fall asleep on Thanksgiving eve and again when you wake on Thanksgiving day to consider what and how much you will eat and drink. A mindful approach to eating often is the best way to stick with your goals for a healthy intake of calories. Remind yourself about your plan throughout the day
Highlight Healthy Helpings
Choose steamed vegetables, salads with heart-healthy olive oil-based dressings, and fresh fruit for your Thanksgiving meal. Having healthy options can make it easier to eat fewer high-calorie, high-fat foods. For example, pairing a bowl of fresh seasonal fruit such as apples, pears, persimmons, and figs with a small serving (3 ounces or less) of your favorite pie or dessert can help satisfy your sweet tooth and limit your calories
Skimp on Sweets
If you know you can't resist a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream this Thanksgiving, then eat less stuffing, have 1 glass of wine instead of 2, and forego bread during your meal. Budgeting your calories with small tradeoffs can make a big difference in your overall calories for the day
Making notes on what you've eaten can help you know how your calories are adding up. Place a blank sheet of paper in a convenient place such as your fridge so that you can jot down your meals and snacks throughout the day. Be sure to include drinks, which can add lots of extra calories to your day
Eating small portions and avoiding second helpings can help keep you within your calorie limit. If you're unlikely to resist a second helping of your favorite Thanksgiving dish, take smaller portions when you fill your plate the first time
Eating and drinking slowly is the best way to fully appreciate your meal and prevent overeating. Studies show that people who eat slowly tend to eat fewer calories than those who eat quickly. Remember that it takes time (about 20 minutes) for your brain and digestive system to be in sync. Eating and drinking slowly will give your brain time to catch up with your stomach!
Gravys, sauces, and dressings can add up to many extra calories in any meal. For example, 1/2 cup of brown gravy has ~180 calories, 4 tablespoons of cream sauce adds an extra 80 to 100 calories to your plate, and 2 tablespoons of Russian dressing packs in more than 100 calories. Opting for small portions or completely avoiding extras such as these is best if you're watching your weight
Activity can provide a focus other than eating to on Thanksgiving day. In addition to giving you time to visit together, walking briskly (3.5 miles per hour or faster) for an hour can burn an average of 200 to 300 calories and help offset holiday calories
"Make Thanksgiving a time to reflect on the good things in your life. Take the focus off eating to help prevent overindulging," says Summit Medical Group registered dietitian Susan Canonico. "Taking a little extra time and thought before the holiday can help you control how much and what you eat. It also can make all the difference in how you feel when the holiday is over!"
For more information about dietary planning to maintain and improve your health,
please call Summit Medical Group Nutrition Services today