During Thanksgiving, it’s easy to go overboard with the calories and consumption. Temptations of gooey pecan pie and dense sweet potatoes topped with crackly marshmallows make it seem impossible to be disciplined. But eating healthfully on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to forgo all your favorite foods. Just keep your wits about you.
Here are five ways we recommend so you can avoid overdoing it on one of the greatest food days of the year.
1. Stick to healthy portions
Just one plate of Thanksgiving food is all you get. Fill up half your plate with vegetables, fruit and a whole wheat roll, a quarter of it with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and a quarter of it with turkey. The more colorful your plate, the better – so get lots of leafy greens, carrots, bell peppers and beets in your veggie spread. If you fill up on those lower caloric density and higher nutrition things, you’re going to feel full, but not bloated and tired, because it’s a lighter fare.
If you’re going for the pie, pick fruit or pumpkin pies because they tend to have fewer calories than chocolate or pecan pies. Try also to stick to single servings of the more unhealthy foods. Aim to have a half-cup of mashed potatoes — about the size of a regular-sized cupcake wrapped — and a 3-ounce serving of turkey – about the size of a checkbook.
2. Eat before you indulge
Don’t starve yourself during the early part of Thanksgiving Day with the idea that you’re just “saving room” for all the food, or that this will make it okay for you to overeat later.
3. Substitute healthy ingredients for unhealthy ones
There are plenty of ways to make Thanksgiving fare healthier. For mashed potatoes, suggested mixing in chicken broth, herbs, or roasted garlic to perk up the flavor instead of adding in butter. Have you tried mashed cauliflower in place of potatoes? They are excellent.
If you’re baking homemade pie, opt for whole wheat pie crusts and substitute low-fat or skim milk for evaporated milk.
4. Drink lots of water and take a walk after eating
Many times when people think they are hungry, they are actually just thirsty. Remember our brain survives on 90% hydration. By drinking lots of water throughout the day, you’ll lower the risk of overeating. It’s also a good idea to take a walk after eating to get your metabolism going instead of lying on the couch.
5. Avoid snacking throughout the day
When you snack throughout the day, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
Most of all, remember the day is Thanksgiving Day. Be thankful you are with family and friends and spending time together. We all have so much to be thankful for!