How to Have a Thinner Thanksgiving
November 9, 2012
Leave behind menu items available most of the year
No one wants to feel deprived of the heart-warming indulgences of Thanksgiving dinner. You have waited all year long to dig into some of these classics! However, less nutritious items on the menu that you can enjoy most of the year can be skipped, sparing calories so that you dont have to feel guilty about enjoying your Thanksgiving favorites. Such items include buttery mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, heavily dressed salads, and appetizers that are often present at any dinner party all year long. Save room on your plate for the items that you truly have been waiting to splurge on, like stuffing, cranberry sauce, or cabbage rolls.
Fill half your plate with veggies
Even during the holidays, it is important to fill half of your plate with veggies when dishing up. Before filling up, it can help to take a stroll by the buffet line to check out what is offered so that you can plan your plate mindfully. Be generous with veggies that weren’t prepared with added fats, such as steamed carrots, Brussels sprouts, and turnips. If it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving dinner, strategically assemble your buffet line so that guests fill up on salads and vegetable dishes before the turkey and carbohydrate choices like potatoes, cabbage rolls, and stuffing. People tend to heap their plate at the beginning of a buffet line, not anticipating how much food actually lies ahead. Therefore, by setting up the buffet line in this manner, by the time your guests reach the calorie-packed items, there won’t be much room on the plate. Another trick for hosts is to sneak veggies into dishes, such as adding sautéed celery, onions, and mushrooms to stuffing, or increasing the veggies in an old recipe that already calls for them.
Cranberry sauce and gravy are staples of Thanksgiving, but are also sources of excess sugar and fat. Gravy is loaded with saturated fat and sodium and canned cranberry sauce is packed with refined sugars in order to make the sour fruit enjoyable. Get back to the basics this season. Skip the canned cranberries and opt for a fresh, homemade version, like this one below at just 50 calories per serving! If you are a guest, portion control is key with sauces. You do not need to skip them entirely, but just use 1 tablespoon of gravy and 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce for your entire plate. A small amount can go a long way. Remember — gravy ladles are more than 1 tablespoon!
Instead of completely avoiding dessert, make a well-informed decision. Yes, you still get to enjoy your favorite pumpkin pie! Simply choose a small piece of pumpkin pie with low-calorie whipped topping or frozen yogurt instead of pecan pie with vanilla ice cream. A piece of pecan pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream add up to a whopping 640 calories and 34 grams of fat! Compare this to the 358 calories and 17 grams of fat in a piece of pumpkin pie and a 1/4 cup of low-calorie whipped topping and the winner is clear. Plus, pumpkin pie is high in fiber as well as beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is important for maintenance of eyesight, skin, and immune function.
Avoid Showing Up to Thanksgiving Dinner Hungry
Do not plan to starve yourself all day "saving your daily calorie allowance" for this feast! This will be a diet disaster. Avoiding hunger can prevent over-indulging and allow you to discriminate between what you really want instead of what your hungry-self thinks you want. Stick to your normal eating schedule throughout the day. Be sure to enjoy a healthy, filling breakfast and lunch before heading to Thanksgiving dinner. Snacks that are high in protein and fiber, such as fruit and yogurt, can also help to manage appetite. Drinking plenty of water during the day can also help to keep your hunger at bay.