What is Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving which often marks the beginning of an over-indulgent holiday season is that time of the year which most of us await. No one wants to think of following a diet or stay away from food though many of us do feel the pinch when we notice that belly bump which was insignificant earlier.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean weight gain or strict restraint and there are ways to keep this holiday enjoyable and healthy. Overeating is one major concern as we tend to associate it with leisure and fun. But, holidays are a time to spend with friends and loved ones, and taking the main focus off of food and placing it on time you spend together can help you avoid overeating.

Practicing mindful eating throughout the year and during the holidays gives you the chance to enjoy the food you eat without feeling uncomfortable full or like you’re missing out on the foods you love.

Breakfast is a Must

Skipping breakfast to save for the calorie intake later during the day may not be a good idea. This can lead to more overeating. A protein-packed breakfast promotes satiety later in the day, reducing mindless snacking, according to a 2013 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. We are more likely to eat a smaller dinner, and fewer nighttime snacks as we feel fuller throughout the day.

Dr. Lori Shemek, a diet and nutrition expert, explains that protein is metabolized slower than carbohydrates and prevents blood sugar spikes and precipitous drops that can lead to hunger and overeating.

Use Smaller Plates

We intend to fill our plates and most importantly choose a large plate to fit in as much as we can. But using smaller plates is a great way to cut down on your intake. Also, using red colored plates can help curb having too much food. A 2013 study in Appetite found that when red dishes are used to serve food, people tend to eat, or use less of things on red dishes, whether it’s chocolate or hand cream. So, using a red plate with a smaller circumference will help you practice portion control effortlessly.

Choose a Healthy Turkey

Turkey is usually the star of the show when it comes to Thanksgiving with starches on the supportive role. Turkey comes in white or dark meat and white meat tends to get dry very quickly. The type of meat actually may not matter as long as you use a skinless turkey. Choosing a healthy turkey does count because most birds carry bacteria. If undercooked, the bacteria, usually Salmonella can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and sometimes fatal illness.

Spice Up your Meal

Rosemary, thyme, ginger, garlic, pepper are few of the most commonly used spices to flavor the special meal. Apart from lighting up the taste buds, spices aid in digestion, prevents bloating and flatulence. If any of your guests have any health issue where you need to cut down on salt, spices can help compensate the taste.

Calorie Dense Stuffing and Gravy

Mashed potato made with butter and milk is the quintessential comfort food and contributes to the big calorie load. Blending cauliflower with Greek yogurt, chicken stock, spices like rosemary, pepper and replacing butter with vegetable oil tastes good and healthier. You can cut down 50% of the sugar and calories by using a homemade cranberry sauce coupled with blueberries which add sweetness and fiber.

For stuffing, using nutty tasting grain millet over processed white bread with traditional herbs, spices and good olive oil will be a healthy swap. Also, enjoy the vegetables – green beans, Brussels sprouts, glazed carrots as they are packed with vitamins and minerals that lack in the meal.

Drink Smart

When we avoid excess alcohol, we can easily avoid excess calories. A 12 ounce (350ml) can of beer contains 154 calories, 5 ounce (147 ml) of wine contains 125 calories. Also, munching along with drinks can be reduced if you prefer to just stick on with one or two shots.

Quick Tips

  1. Divide the plate into three sections with half the plate for veggies, one-quarter for protein, and one-quarter for carbs. This will help you have a balanced meal.
  2. Fill half of your plate with vegetables before you reach for turkey and mashed potatoes. Including more vegetables in your meal, will make you feel full.
  3. Be it white or dark meat, use skinless to avoid the excess fat that comes along.
  4. Be mindful of the food you eat. Be at the table and turn off your television during dinner.
  5. Go for a smaller plate. To prevent overeating, eat slowly and savor your Thanksgiving meal.
  6. Have a slice of the favorite pumpkin pie without toppings, such as ice cream or whipped cream.