When you hear the word "Thanksgiving," what is the first thought that pops into your head? If it’s a smorgasbord of delicious dishes like turkey, stuffing, buttery mashed potatoes and pie, you’re not alone.
Unfortunately many “traditional” Thanksgiving preparations aren’t necessarily healthy, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo this epic annual meal. We have some tricks and swaps to help you enjoy this holiday without missing out on the dishes you love.
1. Don’t fast all day long.
This is rule No. 1 for the day of Thanksgiving. It may seem like the "right" thing to do, given how much you may be planning to eat later, but all you’re doing is causing your body to panic, shutting down your metabolism to hold onto whatever calories the body can. Have a sensible breakfast and lunch and you’re less likely to overeat at dinner.
2. Start with soup.
The average Thanksgiving dinner is estimated to clock in around 2,500 calories -- that’s one meal! Another way to curb all those extra calories is to make soup a first course. Although not as common, a stock-based soup packed with vegetables will help fill you up with water before the real eating begins.
3. Ditch the unnecessary fats.
When preparing side dishes like mashed potatoes or green bean casserole, butter and cream and common ingredients. Go for lighter options like greek yogurt or even silken tofu to add creaminess to side dishes without all the fat. Instead of butter, go for olive oil which isn’t free of calories, but at least provides healthy omega-3s.
4. Serve natural refreshments.
Soda, beer and alcohol are popular drinks for any celebration, but they’re also packed with sugar, calories and artificial ingredients. For a fizzy drink, combine fresh fruit juice with sparkling water and some liquid stevia, a calorie-free natural sweetener. If you prefer to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, opt for mulled red wine, which is created using spices like cinnamon, which is known to help regulate blood sugar levels.
5. Don’t forget the greens.
Your Thanksgiving plate can run the risk of getting too beige and brown with all the meat and starch. Remember to fill up on satisfying cruciferous vegetables like roasted brussels sprouts or asparagus or cooked greens. Again, avoid the urge to smother them in butter and enjoy the calcium and vitamins they provide. Don’t shy away from adding an array of healthy salads to the table -- what’s more fall than a fresh kale salad with toasted pumpkin seeds?
6. Swap out your plates.
While a Thanksgiving buffet may seem incomplete without large platters for guests to fill with all the offerings, opting for a salad plates will force you to choose less of each item and really think about how much more you need when it means repeated trips to the table.
7. Go for skinless turkey.
Yes, turkey tastes best roasted with the skin on to lock in juices and flavor, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Removing the skin from your portion cuts out calories and fat and as long as the bird has rested before carving, it won’t be dry.
8. Add more fiber.
Fiber = full. That’s what you need to remember. Foods rich in fiber are more satisfying and help you eat less during meals and stay full longer in between. Fiber is also beneficial for heart health. So, ditch the mashed potatoes for a baked potato and eat the skin, incorporate whole grains into side dishes and baked goods -- you can also sprinkle some fiber powder into prepared dishes to boost their fiber content.
9. Serve fruit for dessert.
And by fruit, we’re not referring to pie. Grilling fruits like peaches or pineapple is a delicious way to bring out their natural sugars, without adding any yourself. Top them with frozen yogurt and homemade granola and you have a fantastic dessert.
10. Plan ahead for how to use up leftovers.
If you’re hosting the festivities, you’ll probably end up with food left over. Pick out some recipes and stock the fridge ahead of time so you have plenty of options. For example, shred leftover turkey for soup or put it on top of a salad or put stuffing into fresh bell peppers and bake them.
Give these swaps a try for a healthier, but still delicious Thanksgiving meal for you and your family. Get everything you need at eVitamins!