By: Karin Boode, PhD
Thanksgiving is approaching which means enjoying a family meal with loved ones. It is a holiday you probably have been looking forward to. Unfortunately, for most of us, Thanksgiving dinner by itself contains more calories than you normally eat in an entire day! Between the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pumpkin pie, you can pile a lot of calories on your plate! Since the table holds all of your favorite foods, you are likely to go for seconds, followed by dessert. And because it is Thanksgiving, there are usually snacks and finger foods available throughout the day as well.
So what can you do to prevent gaining weight on Thanksgiving day. Believe it or not, it is possible to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner without feeling guilty about what you are eating.
Let me share the healthy habits for your Thanksgiving day:
1. Whether your Thanksgiving meal is at noon or at night, always eat a healthy meal in the morning to avoid overeating later in the day. Some suggestions are oatmeal with raisins or an egg white omelet with veggies.
2. Work out before going to your Thanksgiving dinner or if Thanksgiving dinner is at your house, put the turkey in the oven and then jump on the treadmill or do any of your other workout exercises. Exercise not only will improve your mood, but it will also help you make better eating choices later in the day and it will increase your metabolism.
3. If Thanksgiving is at your house, go for healthier menu options such as removing the skin from your turkey, substituting regular butter and cheese for the low-fat versions, using egg whites instead of whole eggs or even try low-fat plain yogurt instead of sour cream. Also remember to offer several healthier side dishes such as steamed veggies and/or a green salad.
4. If Thanksgiving dinner is not at your house, offer to bring a side dish you know will go well with your diet. That way you will know that there will be at least one item on the menu that you can eat. Offer for example to bring a veggie tray or a big green salad.
5. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep your stomach full. Avoid caffeine and alcohol that can dehydrate you and cause you to overeat.
6. Always remember portion sizes start by filling your plate with the healthy choices such as steamed vegetables and green salad. Add a serving of Turkey no larger than the palm of your hand. And of course, you are only eating the white meat off the turkey without the skin. Also only added small amounts of the other high calorie foods such as sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce.
7. Have your dessert 2 hours later brother then at the end of your dinner. Give your body a chance to digest dinner first.
8. Use the leftovers creatively. Instead of the usual “piled high” turkey sandwich, make a salad with some of the leftover turkey and add spinach, green beans, cauliflower and other vegetables you may have. Use a low-fat dressing such as a balsamic vinaigrette or a salsa.
Always remember, that food does not need to be the main focus of your Thanksgiving. After all, Thanksgiving is about enjoying friends and family and being thankful for all the many blessings throughout the year.
We wish you all a very healthy and happy Thanksgiving. Feel free to share with us how you are planning to have a great time without overeating.