Trying to have a healthy Thanksgiving can be one of the biggest challenges out there. Family meals with large portions of calorie-dense foods can easily double our typical meal intake. A traditional meal including turkey with gravy, rolls with butter, stuffing, green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes with butter weighs in around 1,000 calories. Add a tall glass of milk (200 calories) and a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream (400 calories) for a total of 1,600 calories. Assuming most men typically eat an 800-calorie dinner, it only takes four of these meals to gain a pound. Larger, denser meals (high in fat, sugar and salt), compounded with more dessert and more football-watching can lead to the Holiday 15 (the 10 to 15 pounds many Americans gain between November and January).
To combat this, most health experts suggest to watch your portions and use moderation, but traditional meals taste good, are very abundant and as for moderation_ even as a dietitian, Im not quite sure what it means. Here are some practical tips and recipes to make Thanksgiving cooking just a little bit more heart-friendly.
Tips For A Healthy Thanksgiving
Control portions without cutting them: Reduce the caloric density of your meals by: 1) Replacing half of your pasta, rice or potatoes with vegetables (saves 90 to 150 calories) per serving; 2) Diluting creamy toppings and dressings with skim milk or nonfat, plain yogurt (saves 45 to 50 calories per tablespoon); and 3) Measuring the butter/oil you use for your recipes, or use cooking spray (which comes in many flavors) Ó most people use twice as much oil if they do not measure (saves 130 to 140 calories per tablespoon).
Reduce sodium: Sauces, gravies, meats, and casseroles are usually loaded with salt Ó and for good reason. Salt tastes good. Overindulging on food alone, though, can leave you overly full and bloated; salty foods increase that feeling, since sodium increases water retention. Liven up bland foods with lemon, vinegar, cilantro, basil, or other fresh spices instead of canned/packaged marinades.
Remember to hydrate: Calories from beverages add up quicker than most foods, even the aforementioned rolls with butter. Not sure about you, but I prefer to use any spare calories on second helpings or desert. Drinking unsweetened iced tea, water with lemon and Splenda, or diet soda will save roughly 150 calories per glass versus regular soda, juice or whole milk. Frequent use of artificial sweeteners may present their own health risks, but if used moderately to replace sugar, will reduce total calorie intake, which definitely enhances overall health. With all these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to a healthy Thanksgiving.