It would be hard for me to believe that Thanksgiving is almost here if it weren’t for the Christmas decorations and displays out in full force in the malls (since Halloween). I love this holiday and I, must say, I love the food we eat that day. I say it every year, but this time I really mean it – I am going to eat healthier this year and not overindulge and become comatose on the sofa in front of a football game featuring two teams I could care less about.
In order to accomplish this feat, I have read just about every “eat healthier at Thanksgiving” articles on the Internet and will put some of what I have learned to the test. There are many articles written by well-meaning folks, touting the benefits of eating organically or gluten-free. There are many writers touting the benefits of eating a vegan Thanksgiving (that must be an oxymoron) and some who just recommend avoiding the gluttony of the holiday altogether. While many of these writers make some sense to me, I’m just not going to go to any extreme measures on this day. Some of these bigger changes (vegan, gluten-free) probably belong in the realm of New Years Resolutions. Come back to read my posts at year end to see if I manage to get any of these dietary changes in my resolutions.
I did find some common denominators in many of the articles that most folks could follow, so let’s concentrate on those:
1. Eat Breakfast
Most folks don’t sit down to their Thanksgiving dinner until the afternoon, at the earliest. The most obvious reason is so you’re not “starving” yourself, which usually leads to overindulgence at dinner time. Eating breakfast (and possibly lunch, if you don’t start your dinner until evening) will keep your blood sugar in check, so you don’t feel the need to inhale your dinner.
2. Limit your Snacking During the Day
If you follow tip #1, this one will be much easier. The dinner, by itself, has at least a full day’s worth of calories in it, so snacking before and after the meal (usually on high-caloric treats) will make your caloric intake for the day seem like a week’s worth.
3. Stick to Healthy Portions
Fill up your plate once, and don’t go back for seconds ( I know – it’s harder than it sounds). Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow – fill up half your plate with vegetables, fruit and a whole wheat roll; a quarter of the plate with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes; and a quarter of it with turkey or ham. If you do this, you’ll have room for one of those yummy deserts sitting on the serving table. You have to indulge a little – right?
4. Substitute Unhealthy Ingredients with Healthy Ones
A normal portion (3 1/2 ounces) of (unadulterated) white turkey meat (with skin) only has about 200 calories (and 28 g of protein). It’s the side dishes that put you over the top, calorically-speaking. Here are some great healthy dinner tips from some some staff members at the Mayo Clinic:
Turkey. Avoid basting your turkey with butter and oil and, instead, baste your bird with low-fat, low-salt broth, wine or juice.
Stuffing. Switch from white to whole-wheat bread and get the benefit of whole grains. Add flavor with fresh herbs and aromatic vegetables such as carrots, onions and celery. Or ty wild rice for stuffing – another good source of fiber.
Cranberries. Cranberries are another Thanksgiving meal staple, but many folks go for the sweetened variety. While cranberries are high in antioxidants and have proven health benefits, you won’t reap any such rewards if you opt for the sugar-laden canned variety. Your best bet is to opt for whole, fresh cranberries, or make your own cranberry sauce from scratch. Apple and/or orange or even natural sweeteners, like Stevia, can be used to help sweeten your sauce.
Green Beans. I’m putting this one here, kicking and screaming, because I love a good green-bean dish sitting in cream of mushroom soup, topped with onion rings and almond slivers. However, you’re much better off without the add-ons.
Gravy. I know – you have to have it, but keep the flour to a minimum.
So, there you have it – eat healthier foods, eat less of them and be thankful for the people you’re sharing the meal with. And remember – keep the “Friday” in “Black Friday.” Spend the time with your family and friends – not with a million strangers on Thanksgiving evening fighting over the low-priced TVs and other “have-to-have” items. There will be plenty of sales before Christmas, but only one Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving from LifeInsure.com!