With the arrival of the holidays, which are pretty much synonymous with feasting until you fall victim to a food coma, it can be difficult to keep up with healthy-eating regimens. I mean, when faced with a warm, homemade, fresh-out-of-the-oven pumpkin pie, who can refuse the temptation of a second (or third) piece?
It’s customary to celebrate Thanksgiving by stuffing yourself silly and, yes, it’s delicious, but the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, at least 2,000 calories more than a recommended daily amount. Umm, turkey 10 anyone? No thanks. If you’re trying to eat a little healthier this Thanksgiving, here are some tips.
1. Eat breakfast.
Eating a healthy breakfast revs up your metabolism and allows you to burn more calories throughout the day. That’s why it’s especially important to eat breakfast on Thanksgiving, to help your body get ready to effectively burn those calories during dinner. I suggest some plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, a veggie-filled omelet, or some oatmeal like this festive pumpkin pie oatmeal.
2. Start with an appetizer.
With all the food out on the table all at once, you’re probably more likely to reach for the stuffing than the green beans. Starting off with an appetizer forces you to spend more time at the table, begin to fill up on a healthy starter, and eat slower. Try starting out with a yummy soup, like this slow-cooker butternut squash soup, or a warm salad, like this sweet potato, mushroom, and spinach salad.
3. Eat your veggies.
You should try to fill half your plate with vegetables, and eat them first, to avoid filling up on carbs. Easy ways to spice up your plain-old veggies are with herbs, garlic, ginger, or lemon, or to make a loaded salad like this holiday salad with cranberry apple orange vinaigrette.
4. Make food swaps.
It is so easy to make a few food swaps in your dinner to make the meal a little healthier. Sub in sweet potatoes for the regular when making mashed potatoes, eat the white meat instead of dark, or try low-fat gravy.
5. Do the cooking yourself, and try new recipes.
Many of us follow the recipes passed down from family members around the holidays, and that’s okay, it’s part of the tradition. But don’t be afraid to change things up once in a while. By cooking healthier versions of traditional recipes at home, like this mushroom stuffing or this cranberry pineapple relish, your produce will be fresher and you can make adjustments to control the nutrition and calories.
6. Start with smaller portions.
The food will still be there if you go back for seconds, trust me. By starting out with smaller portions, you can finish everything on your plate without bursting your pants, before deciding if you really want that second heap of mashed potatoes.
7. Change up your dessert.
Skip the traditional large piece of pie with ice cream and whipped cream on top this year for a healthier alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth. Try to incorporate some fruit for additional fiber and nutrients, like with this homemade applesauce or this apple confit.
So there you have it, seven ways to change up your Thanksgiving feast and save yourself some caloric regret.