By: Anja Trenkwalder
Thanksgiving is for spending time with family, preparing delicious food, and splurging on your all-time favorite fall feasts. Many of us will be going home to reconnect with extended family and to spend a few wonderfully cozy days with loved ones. No wonder that after days of gorging food and keeping exercise to a minimum – which, let’s face it, is almost as much a part of the season as the traditional turkey dinner – won’t be treated as kindly as your soul and taste buds.
The average American Thanksgiving meal kicks in at a whopping 4,500 calories. To keep from returning from break with a few extra pounds try some of these useful tricks:
If you have a say in the Thanksgiving preparations – and if not you should ask to give some input – you have some control over what goes into the food. True, some family recipes call for large amounts of fat and sugar, but you can make sure to put some roasted or steamed veggies on the table and/or a nice salad with low-fat dressing. Devour a huge helping of these vegetables before anything else. They will fill your stomach with vitamins and fiber. Once you are done, you will be satisfied with a much smaller serving of your fatty favorites.
Ditch green bean casserole and instead serve yourself some sautéed green beans that will save you from fat, sodium, and sugar.
Dig in on corn. The fiber and complex carbs will fill you up and supply you with plenty of nutrients. Fresh corn is significantly better for you than creamed corn or cornbread and is also easier and quicker to prepare.
Love mashed potatoes? Try mashed sweet potatoes or yams instead – they have a lot more vitamins. Go light on the butter and skip the marshmallows in order to make this yummy favorite healthier.
When it comes to turkey, the white meat delivers a dose of lean protein without much fat. Don’t be afraid to have an extra helping of breast meat, but try to avoid skin, wings, and drumsticks because that is where the fat is. Also, ditch the gravy. It is full of fat, sodium, and processed starch, all of which is bad for your arteries. If you cannot go without gravy, stick to one tablespoon and avoid the stuffing – this will easily save you around 350 calories as well as 1,000 milligrams of sodium, which is almost half your recommended daily amount.
Another staple to avoid is dinner rolls. One roll is about 120 calories and does not provide any nutrients other than processed carbs. Since there are many other delicious choices with healthy nutrients, leaving this bland staple out will be super easy.
As for cranberry sauce, avoid canned sauce at all costs as it is packed with sugar and additives. It is better to make your own and to substitute sugar for honey, raw coconut sugar, or agave syrup.
After your meal, it is time for dessert. Make sure to eat a full dinner before hitting the dessert table. Grabbing cake when still hungry is a terrible idea. Remember, dessert is not a meal but a treat and should be enjoyed in modest quantities. Have a plan of action and stick with lighter choices like pumpkin pie.
Consider these few simple tricks and enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving without the extra pounds.