Need some ideas to help you keep your waist trim and avoid the trimmings during your Thanksgiving or another upcoming holiday meal? Here are a few tips to help you with planning a healthy, delicious meal:
- Buy and cook with lower-fat or fat-free ingredients
- Avoid self-basting turkeys that contain added fat
- Instead of stuffing, choose fruit, herbs or vegetables
- Serve healthy alternatives for dessert, such as pies made with graham cracker crust or fruit
- Buy plastic containers so you can send your guests home with leftovers
With the holidays upon us, indulging in festive foods including turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie often motivate people to rev up their fitness goals. As you make your holiday plans, schedule time for exercise. Community “turkey trots” offer families a great way to exercise over the Thanksgiving weekend. The traditional “turkey trots” usually include a one or three mile family fun walk, as well as several options to participate in more competitive jogging events. Check your local newspaper listings or online for more information on events in your community.
Thanksgiving Day meals are often referred to as a “feast” among friends and family. The hosts strive to outdo themselves in the culinary arts as guests oblige and indulge.
For many, Thanksgiving is a day we allow ourselves to eat as much as we want or take a “cheat day” from routine balanced meals. Unfortunately, after the feast, many people find themselves feeling miserable about overeating.
While turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are all considered staples in Thanksgiving cuisine, these traditional favorites can be filled with unhealthy fat and calories. The average Thanksgiving dinner has more than 2,000 calories – a real challenge if you are watching your waistline or trying to keep within a recommended daily calorie intake.
Fortunately, there is a way to enjoy the Thanksgiving Day feast with plenty of simple, delicious recipes that will leave you satisfied. Preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal that’s lower in fat and calories requires a little planning and research to find recipes that are healthier and lower in calories and fat, but well worth it.
For those responsible for planning and cooking the meal, you can reduce calories by substituting butter and cream sauces with lower-fat or fat-free ingredients such as fat-free sour cream, fat-free cream of mushroom soup and fat-free cheese.
Whole milk can be substituted with 2 percent or skim milk and whole eggs replaced with egg whites.
If you plan to serve turkey, select the turkey breast rather than the whole bird because breast meat is lower in calories. If you do buy a whole turkey, avoid “self-basting” turkeys, as they often contain added fat. Rather than rubbing the skin with butter or oil, use fat-free cooking spray and season it with salt, pepper or a favorite seasoning.
Resist the old tradition of filling the turkey with breads and stuffing. Instead, stuff the cavity with halved onions, lemons, apples and sprigs of fresh herbs. To make healthy but tasty homemade gravy, use vegetable oil instead of turkey drippings to limit saturated fat and cholesterol.
For those who insist on adding stuffing, consider using wild rice and grains, which are more nutritious than bread stuffing. Add roasted nuts instead of meat for added flavor.
Instead of sweet potato and yam casseroles, baked whole sweet potatoes are a low-calorie alternative. Fresh vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, asparagus, beans or salad are nutritious options compared to traditional vegetable casseroles filled with heavy creams and sauces.
Make a healthy cranberry relish instead of a sauce to cut down on the sugar. Because most of the fat in pies is found in the crust, use a reduced-fat graham cracker crust or make a crust-free pie. To reduce calories even more, offer fruit, sherbet or frozen yogurt for dessert.
If you are a guest and cannot control the preparation of the meal, simply limit yourself to smaller portions. In addition, guests can forgo appetizers or bring a vegetable tray to share and enjoy. Raw vegetables are filling and can reduce the risk of overeating during the meal.
Another way to limit calorie intake is to drink lots of water, which is both filling and hydrating.
In addition to proper hydration and portion control, staying active can help you avoid overeating and feel better. Take a walk around the neighborhood or engage the family in a game of football. Avoid eating and sitting, which can contribute to overeating and weight gain.
With a little planning, discipline and increased activity, you can enjoy the Thanksgiving meal and time with family without the guilt. Thanksgiving Day is a great opportunity to create healthy new traditions with family and friends.