Eating Healthy on Thanksgiving

Posted on November 20 2012

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to get together with family and friends to celebrate everything we are thankful for. A large part of this tradition involves the Thanksgiving meal that is powerful enough to knock-out everyone after a healthy dose of L-tryptophan. However, with every Thanksgiving dinner comes the opportunity to overeat and pack on unneeded pounds. The average American ingests an estimated 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. There are some foods that can be swapped for healthy alternatives and tips to help ensure you are not overeating, especially the bad stuff. Pigs in a Blanket – These cute, tasty treats are a holiday party favorite. However, at 66 calories a piece they can add up fast. Additionally they are packed with saturated fat and cancer-causing nitrates, making them not only unhealthy but unsafe too. Try swapping them for a half cup of steamed or broiled shrimp. This healthy alternative contains only 100 calories and almost no fat at all. Remember to limit the cocktail sauce, which adds extra calories and salt. Stuffing – It should be no surprise that carbohydrate-laden stuffing would end up on the list. Plain bread stuffing carries around 200+ calories per cup. As we add more deliciousness to the stuffing in the form of meats or grease, we actually add a huge surplus of calories and fats. Smothering stuffing in gravy also accomplishes this task. Keep that in mind when arranging your Thanksgiving plate and perhaps save those calories for something else. Chips and Dip – An easy appetizer, chips and dip are also easy to overeat. Loading up on chips and dip can also load you up in calories, hydrogenated fat, and salt. Swap salty chips for a popular cruditè plate. Enjoy carrots, green and red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are a staple at many Thanksgiving dinners. Additionally, they are most likely the healthiest food on the table, loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. However, there is a tendency to load these great veggies up with butter and sugar, all after baking most of the nutritional value out of them. It is suggested to zap a sweet potato in the microwave for a few minutes and then add a tiny amount of butter, a little bit of cinnamon, and top it off with a small marshmallow. Or you can skip the sweet spud all together and stick with one small serving of mashed potatoes, which is around 120 calories. Dark Meat – The great thing about turkey, or any poultry for that matter, is the options of white and dark meat. But did you know that as small of a serving as 3 oz. of dark meat contains approximately 200 calories and is loaded with saturated fat? Dark meat is known for its rich flavor, but it is also known as the fattiest parts of the bird. The skin is also a source high in fat on a turkey or chicken. It is suggested to stick with white meat which has a significantly lower amount of fat and only 114 calories for the same 3 oz. serving. If you are a person who just loves their dark meat, that’s fine. Just keep the serving size small and remove any extra skin. Egg-Nog – A winter holiday tradition, one tall, slim glass full of egg-nog contains the same amount of calories as 3 glasses of wine. 343 calories to be exact. Additionally, the same glass of egg-nog also includes 12 grams of fat and 22 grams of sugar. Nix this calorie-filled beverage and if you are 21 years, or older settle for a glass of wine instead. Not only will you take in fewer calories but wine is packed with antioxidents, which offer greater health benefits than thick and heavy egg-nog. Pie – What is Thanksgiving without pie? As cookies are to Christmas, pie is to Thanksgiving. But how do you know which pie won’t undermine all of the hard work you accomplished at dinner. Well the traditional pie of Thanksgiving, pumpkin is your best bet. 2 other Thanksgiving favorites, pecan pie and apple pie contain and average 780 and 415 calories per slice respectively. A slice of pumpkin however is around 350 calories. The best news, the calorie projection for that slice of pumpkin pie includes that dollop of whipped cream on the top!


Aside from watching what you take in during Thanksgiving dinner, there are a few other things you can do to ensure you have a healthy Thanksgiving holiday. - East a fiber-rich breakfast with fresh fruit. This will help keep you fuller longer and prevent overeating of snacks and hourdevoirs. - Don’t sit at the snack table. This leads to mindless eating and snacking while chit-chatting. Instead find a comfy place on the couch or chair and eat only small servings of snacks on a plate or napkin. - Smaller plate sizes means smaller portion. It’s a great idea to use a smaller plate when serving high-calorie food. It is suggested to begin filling the plate with healthier foods, so there is even less space for the high-calorie ones. - With so much delicious food, it can be difficult to not take “just one more” bite. Converse and relax with guests to avoid the residual “I’m hungry” feelings as you digest.


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