Have a Healthy Thanksgiving

Roasted root vegetables are a healthy side dish for your Thanksgiving meal!
Roasted root vegetables are a healthy side dish for your Thanksgiving meal!

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about our impending food choices.

The typical Thanksgiving fare is not the most healthy, but with a little bit of preparation, you can make this year’s Thanksgiving a healthier one. Here are some great tips that will allow you to look and feel great after the holiday, without depriving yourself of delicious holiday food.

For Guests

When the cooking’s out of your hands, it’s even tougher to eat healthy on this food-centric holiday. As a guest for Thanksgiving dinner, try some of these tips!

  • Don’t show up for dinner famished. It is a natural fact; when we’re hungry, we eat more food and we eat faster. Have a healthy and complete breakfast or lunch before showing up. This will keep you from overindulging in foods that are very fattening.
  • Don’t think of Thanksgiving as an all-you-can-eat restaurant. Pack your plate with some lean protein, a few helpings of vegetables, and your favorite starch. Eat at a slow pace, and when you start to feel full, stop eating.
  • Choose skinless turkey. If you’re doing the turkey thing, pick a skinless 4-ounce portion of turkey and save your hunger for some of the other dishes and dessert choices. The skin has a high amount of cholesterol and fat.
  • Be wary of your portion sizes on side dishes. Always keep moderation as the main theme. Choosing small portions will allow you to sample everything without getting too stuffed.
  • Drink a lot of fluids, preferably water. Water will help make you feel full, while also keeping you hydrated. Choices like coffee and alcohol won’t curb your appetite, and they will also leave you dehydrated.
  • Limit your selection of items with high fat content. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner has many choices that are high in fat, such as any creamy or fried dishes or cheesy casseroles. For example, mashed potatoes may be delicious but they are made with milk and butter.

For Hosts

Obviously, you can’t control the ingredients, if you’re not doing the cooking, but the portion size is completely your call. Again, keep moderation as the theme of the day. If you are hosting the meal or can bring a dish, here are some ways that you can make the meal a little bit healthier:

  • Focus on the vegetables. Side dishes are the true stars of Thanksgiving dinner, so focus on the fall harvest with healthy sides like roasted veggies, stuffed winter squash, and green salad with healthy nuts and seasonal veggies.
  • Substitutions. Swap out high fat and high salt ingredients for healthier options. For example, you can mash potatoes with almond milk and olive oil instead of cream and butter.
  • Leftovers. Turkey sandwiches are tasty but not so healthy. Take your leftover turkey and make some soup with fresh vegetables.

Thanksgiving is a great time to experiment, so if you are doing some cooking, keep an eye out for healthy, delicious recipes for your holiday table!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by bee brulee

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