From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
November 17, 2017

Healthy eating tips for Thanksgiving

Lisa Akly
Palmetto Health Heart Hospital
Thanksgiving feasts don’t have to derail your healthy eating plan. Palmetto Health Heart Hospital Dietitian Lisa Akly offers these tips to help you eat healthy. 

Modify traditional recipes:  Most of your favorite traditional Thanksgiving recipes can still fit into a healthy diet with a little tweaking. You can potentially reduce the amount of fat and sugar in sweet dishes by using pureed fruit, applesauce, reducing the sugar by 1/2 or 1/3 or using a sugar substitute suitable for cooking. 

For savory dishes, try going low-fat on ingredients such as cheese and sour cream and using fat-free broths or cooking wines. Fat-free evaporated milk may replace cream or half and half in creamy side dishes or soups.  

Take advantage of the season:  Check out the fresh ingredients available this time of year and try to incorporate those foods into new and healthy Thanksgiving recipes. Apples, squashes, grapes, pumpkins, cranberries and sweet potatoes are some examples of seasonal food items.  

How about roasted sweet potatoes topped with roasted pecans as a healthy side dish? Or, baked apples for a healthy dessert? 

Don’t skip breakfast: Wake up on Thanksgiving Day and prepare a small but satisfying breakfast. Examples include peanut butter on a whole grain English muffin, egg sandwich on whole grain bread, or oatmeal with fresh fruit. Approaching your Thanksgiving Day feast on an empty stomach can sabotage even those with the strongest willpower! 

Go smaller on portions:  In order to sample all of the different items your Thanksgiving meal has to offer, fill one plate of your absolute favorite seasonal Thanksgiving Day delights and stick with it. Resist the urge to go back for seconds.

Vegetable side dishes with minimal ingredients will be lower in fat and calories than creamy, cheese-filled casserole-type side dishes. White meat turkey has less fat and fewer calories than dark meat turkey and skin. 

Avoid multiples on desserts. Opt for smaller portions and select the one that’s your absolute favorite.

Eat slowly and savor every bite. Remember, Thanksgiving is a time to relax and enjoy the company of your family and friends. It doesn’t have to be just about the food!

Be smart about your beverages: Concentrate on eating your calories rather than drinking them. A 16-ounce glass of sweet tea has approximately 150 calories. Refill and you have the amount of calories fit for a small meal. 

If you’re watching your caloric intake, stick to calorie-free beverages such as sparkling or still water and liven it up with a twist of lemon, lime or an orange wedge.

Enjoy physical activity after your Thanksgiving feast:  Find activities not centered around food that your whole family can enjoy! Instead of the usual nap we may take after a Thanksgiving meal, how about going outside for a walk, going biking, or playing your favorite outdoor sport? Develop active and fun habits that can continue after the holiday season!  

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