Pause and imagine Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. What comes to mind? Turkey, gravy, sweet potato pie, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing. . . plates will be spilling forth from the table and you will undoubtedly help yourself to multiple servings. And then it strikes: the feeling that you ate too much and the feeling of being weighed down that lingers for days. Instead of wearing sweat pants for a week, below are some tips on how to have a healthy meal for Thanksgiving this year.
1) Avoid consuming large amounts of salt, as most Thanksgiving foods are high in sodium, which isn’t the greatest for your heart and blood pressure, and can lead to bloating. If you are the one preparing food, there are plenty of recipes for delicious dishes that are low in sodium that you can serve. However, if you are at the mercy of another chef’s seasonings, use gravy sparingly and interchange it with light cranberry sauce (low in sodium but high in sugars) to keep turkey moist. When given the choice, choose sweet potatoes over regular ones as they usually require less salt. If you want to an alternative to salting your food, reach for herbs as a way of adding flavor.
2) Fill up on healthy foods before you dig into the more unhealthy morsels so your portion sizes are naturally smaller. Instead of heading straight for the mashed potatoes and stuffing, have a bowl of salad or some fruit. Additionally, resist the temptation to eat as much as possible as fast as possible. Instead, give your food time to digest so you’re stomach as the chance to alert you that you’re full. Drink water in between helping yourself to multiple servings, as this helps to curb your appetite as well.
3) Find healthy alternatives for classic thanksgiving foods. Pass over the crackers and cheese that are often served prior to the meal in favor of raw veggies; make mashed potatoes with healthier alternatives to butter, like chicken broth and olive oil; leave out the pie crust and serve mouse or pudding instead. And, when eating turkey, consider passing over the skin. However, if your favorite staple is something yummy like sweet yams, then don’t skip it. Instead, simply limit calories in other aspects of the meal.
4) After you’re full, get up from the table temporarily, perhaps to help wash the dishes, take a brief walk or make a phone call. This will give your food a chance to settle and will prevent you from eating food simply because it is in front of you.