Thanksgiving is just about here and we're looking forward to all those delicious traditional holiday dishes. But with the average Thanksgiving dinner weighing in at 2000-3000 calories, the holiday feasting can easily sabotage a healthy eating plan. Is it possible to enjoy the festivities without sacrificing your waistline or feeling deprived? Absolutely!
Here are some calorie-friendly strategies to help you navigate the holiday smorgasbord without abandoning your healthy intentions.
Don't skip meals! Although you may be tempted to skip meals so you can indulge at Thanksgiving dinner guilt-free, this is not a good idea. If you're ravenous when you arrive at the table, you're almost sure to overeat. When we are extremely hungry, we tend to take very large portions and eat them very quickly, which can make us feel over-full. Instead, consume healthy and balanced meals during Thanksgiving day, which will keep your hunger levels in check so you're capable of making healthy choices at the dinner table. Start the day off with a small and satisfying breakfast containing lean protein and fiber, such as a low fat yogurt with fruit or an egg with a slice of whole wheat toast, and you'll find you're much less likely to overdo it later in the day.
Practice portion control. It's easy to be tempted to go overboard with portion sizes, given the incredible array of sumptuous Thanksgiving food options. However, our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs. Before you start filling your plate, survey the buffet table and decide what you're going to choose. Then select reasonable-sized portions of your favorite holiday dishes. There is no need to take some of every food on the table, especially the foods that you can have all year long or the dishes that aren't your favorite.
Make healthy holiday choices. There are plenty of healthy holiday options that taste good and tend to be lower in fat and calories. These best bets include skinless white turkey meat, plain vegetables, mashed potatoes without butter, roasted sweet potatoes and salads made with vinaigrette dressings. Watch out for dishes topped with cream or cheese sauces, gravies, dark meat with skin, rich casseroles and anything fried. A good rule of thumb is to fill 3/4 of your plate with healthier choices and leave 1/4 of your plate for the more decadent, richer dishes.
Eat slowly. Take your time enjoying Thanksgiving dinner and think about what you're truly thankful for. Engage in conversation with family and friends, put your fork down between bites and chew each mouthful slowly and thoroughly. Engage your senses, savoring the appearance, smells, taste, textures, and flavors of your food. Stop eating when you start to feel full, not after you're overstuffed. By consuming your meal slowly and mindfully, you may find you can still enjoy your favorite foods without overindulging.
Drink up! Drink plenty of water on Thanksgiving day. This will keep you well-hydrated and you'll be less likely to consume excess calories from other beverages. Some studies have shown that drinking water before a meal can help cut down on the portion of food consumed at that meal.
Stay active! Exercise is a great way to burn off all those Thanksgiving calories. Go for a brisk walk or bike ride on your own, or plan fun group activities that engage the family and the heart rate such as a hike, a game of flag or touch football, tennis, or even a WiiFit competition.