Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner the healthy way? It isn't easy when you're bombarded with pumpkin pie, creamy mashed potatoes, and holiday cocktails — but, yes, it is possible. To give you the lowdown, we spoke with five nutritionists about everything from portion sizes and calorie count to which foods to eat and which foods to avoid.
Denying yourself your favorite foods is never a good idea, but neither is falling into a food coma. You can definitely avoid that if you load up on healthy foods, then save room for a small serving of pumpkin pie. “Fill your plate with mostly healthy foods and small tastes of the unhealthy ones,” said Amanda Foti, registered dietitian for Selvera Wellness. “There isn’t much that the unhealthy choices offer us other than unnecessary calories and good taste. Fill your plate with lean protein, fresh cooked vegetables, and a small spoon full of all the extras you want to ‘taste.’”Enjoy yourself, appreciate the food you’re eating, and be thankful. When you do decide to splurge, make sure it’s worth it and save your calorie allowance for something you really are looking forward to. -Haley Whitley, nutritionist and Pilates ProWorks instructor
If you are trying to get the most out of your calories, let’s just say that you can have a serving of turkey, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and cranberry sauce for the same amount of calories as a serving of mac and cheese. Although you can allow yourself to let loose and enjoy the foods you rarely have, keep your splurging in check. “Remember, Thanksgiving comes around once a year, so don’t feel guilty about enjoying your favorite dishes,” said Haley Whitley, a nutritionist and Pilates ProWorks instructor. “Sure, some splurging is warranted, but keep it under control. Enjoy yourself, appreciate the food you’re eating, and be thankful. When you do decide to splurge, make sure it’s worth it and save your calorie allowance for something you really are looking forward to.”
Preparing for Thanksgiving may take days, weeks, or even months, but your health should be in mind permanently. “Eating whole foods on a regular basis is the perfect prep for the festivities that happen all season long,” Whitley said. “Thanksgiving is just the beginning. Stocking up on nourishing foods will build your stores of nutrients and allow your body to handle the lack of sleep, stress, skipped workouts, and poor eating habits that take place during the holiday season, so that you don’t get sick or gain weight. In other words, you’ll have a strong foundation to forge ahead into the season!”
It’s all about moderation and, while food is a huge focus of this holiday, it’s not the only important thing, so try to concentrate on good company and other things you are thankful for.