Do you know that the average Thanksgiving dinner has over 2000 calories? It can be a real challenge if you are watching your waistline. The following are some eating tips so that you can still look good and be healthy after the Thanksgiving dinner without having to deprive yourself.
If you are a guest of a Thanksgiving dinner
- Don’t go to the Thanksgiving dinner hungry: we often eat faster and more when we are hungry – therefore eat a wholesome breakfast and lunch on the day to avoid overeating at dinner time.
- Thanksgiving dinner is not an all-you-can-eat buffet: Fill your plate half with vegetables, one quarter with a lean meat and the rest with a starch of your choice. Eat slowly and stop when you are full.
- Turkey – go skinless: choose your 4-oz turkey portion skinless to slash away some fat and cholesterol. Save your appetite for the side dishes and desserts.
- Side Dishes – watch your portion size: go for smaller portions. This way you can sample all the different foods. Moderation is always the key.
- Make a conscious choice to limit high fat items: high fat food items can be found in fried and creamy dishes as well as cheese-filled casseroles in a traditional Thanksgiving meal . For instance, mashed potatoes are usually made with butter and milk; green bean casseroles are often prepared with cream of mushroom soup, cheese and milk and topped with fried onions; candied yams are loaded with cream, sugar and marshmallows. If you cannot control the ingredients that go in to a dish, simply limit yourself to a smaller helping size. Again moderation is the key.
- Drink plenty of water: alcohol and coffee can dehydrate your body. Drink calorie-free water to help fill up your stomach and keep you hydrated.
If you are the honorable chef of a Thanksgiving dinner
- Substitute high fat ingredients with lower-fat or fat-free ingredients. Learn about the 5 easy steps to recipe substitutions or see table below.
- Leftover Turkey? Instead of turkey sandwiches, use the leftover turkey to make a pot of soup with fresh chunky vegetables.
- Experiment with new recipes: we did a search on Google and found numerous delicious yet healthy low-fat contemporary Thanksgiving recipes. Experiment!
Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Substitution Tips
Recipe calls for… / Substitution
- 1 whole egg / 2 egg whites
- sour cream / low fat plain yogurt or low fat sour cream
- milk / skim or 1% milk
- ice cream / frozen yogurt
- heavy cream (not for whipping) / 1:1 ratio of flour whisked into non fat milk (e.g. 1 cup of flour + 1 cup of non fat milk)
- whipped cream / chilled evaporated skim milk or other low fat whipped products such as Nutriwhip
- cheese / low-fat cheese (please note: non-fat cheese does not melt well if use in cooking or baking)
- butter / light butter
- cream of mushroom / fat-free cream of mushroom
- Thanksgiving Eating Survival Tips
- Vegan Options for Thanksgiving Dinner
- Turkey: Health Benefits and How-To
- 5 Steps to Make it Through Thanksgiving Without Fat-Free Products
- Simple Thanksgiving Meal Makeover
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.