Thanksgiving is near, but no need to fret about Thanksgiving dinner and all its enticing dishes. There are ways to make it a little healthier --- and avoid that uncomfortable overstuffed feeling that many of us have after big holiday meals!
Making the best food choices involves knowing which foods to eat more of and which to eat sparingly (notice I didn't say AVOID). Here are a few tips to help you get through the holiday meal without derailing those healthy eating habits:
1. Look at all dishes before loading up your plate. This way, you'll only get foods that you really want. Focus on foods that usually are not available at other times of the year.
2. Start by filling half your plate with NON-STARCHY vegetables (preferably roasted or cooked without creamy sauces) which can load you up with fiber and help you feel full. Try these vegetables:
Greens (Collards, Mustard, Kale, Turnip)
See how many different COLORS you can include on your plate! Choose smaller portions of starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn.
3. Take it easy on those starchy holiday side dishes such as casseroles, dressing, candied yams, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. Aim for no more than 1/2 cup of these items.
4. Choose a 3-oz. portion of skinless turkey breast, which is usually the leanest meat on the holiday dinner table.
5. Slow down while eating. Take time to savor the various flavors. Enjoy your meal!
6. Do not drink your calories! Watch out for those holiday punches, sodas, juices and alcohol as they usually contribute empty calories (the kind we don't need...).
7. Enjoy your favorite dessert.... just not so much of it!
8. DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF ALL DAY!! There is no such thing as "saving" your calories by skipping meals or eating very little before the big dinner. You are only setting yourself up to being extra hungry by dinner time, which often triggers you to eat quicker and MORE food than you need. Start the day with a sensible breakfast (i.e., one packed with protein to sustain you and keep you from feeling hungry.
9. Remember, there is no such thing as "bad eating". If you overindulge this Thanksgiving (or any other holiday), it's only ONE day! Don't let one day of overindulgence undo all that you've accomplished so far. Just get back on track the next day (e.g., exercising, drinking more water, getting extra sleep).
Check out this month's recipe (which can be a healthy holiday side dish):
Crunchy Broccoli Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing
(From: She Likes Food)
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yields 6 servings
4 cups chopped broccoli (VEGETABLE)
15-oz. can Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (PROTEIN)
Heaping 1/2 cup dried cranberries (FRUIT)
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds (PROTEIN)
1/3 cup diced red onion (VEGETABLE)
Salt, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl and mix until combined.
2. Add all dressing ingredients to a small jar and whisk until combined. Pour over salad and mix again until combined. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to four days.
As you enjoy the holiday festivities, take the emphasis off the "big meal", enjoy family and friends, be grateful for what you have and count your blessings. Happy Holidays!!