Tips for a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving

21 11 2014

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, without a doubt. I love it because there’s really no foolishness surrounding Cathy head shotit….no perfect presents to worry about buying and wrapping, no costumes to make, no begging for candy, and no rabbits delivering baskets. It’s all about family, friends, love and traditions. It is a time of reflection, to remember what we are thankful for. It is a time when we can gather around the table to share great food, great stories, and to recall how precious our time together really is. In my family, food is a very big part of our celebration of thanks, as I am sure it is for many of you.

You may be starting to worry about how your healthy habits are going to fare over the holiday. There is so much good food to choose from! And face it, much of it is not the healthiest…multiple “casseroles”, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, pies, etc. I know that every blogger and “healthy lifestyles” web site is cramming in their tricks of the trade this week leading up to Thanksgiving. So I don’t miss the boat here, I am going to give you my strategies to make it through unscathed this Thanksgiving:

  1. Recognize that this day is going to be different. This is a special occasion, and you WILL eat differently than you do on a typical Thursday. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you will say “no” to all of your favorite foods. Think about it, digest it and prepare yourself.  
  2. Start planning. If you have a say in the menu, choose to offer at least 2 vegetables that are really healthy options (marinated carrots, roasted asparagus or brussels sprouts, a green salad, baked sweet potatoes). This way you can be sure to have some healthy options to choose from in addition to your turkey. Put a serving of these on your plate first.
  1. Portion control! Those traditional foods that are laden with calories and fat….pick only what you can’t live without, and take a small spoonful or piece. And I mean the things you ONLY have for holidays (stuffing, corn pudding, pumpkin pie), not store bought rolls with butter. Things that are special. Stick to one serving.
  1. If you enjoy cooking, experiment with your recipes. There is always some tweaking you can do to make traditional recipes just a bit healthier, like cutting back on the sugar and butter in your sweet potato casserole, and using evaporated skim or 2% milk in your pumpkin pie. Get some healthy cooking tips here: K Healthy Cooking Tips for Weight Management
  1. Go easy on the alcohol. Remember that 5oz of wine, a 12oz beer and a shot (11/2 oz) of liquor is a serving and all have about 100-150 calories each. Not only will several drinks break your calorie bank, they will also decrease your inhibitions. It is very hard to make smart food choices when you have had more than your fair share to drink. Stick to one drink.
  1. Be mindful. Eat slowly. Savor each bite of food. Be engaged. Enjoy the conversation and fellowship at the table. Recognize when you are full, and don’t be afraid to leave some food on your plate.
  1. Exercise! You know you will be eating differently, so plan on getting more physical activity! Take a long walk on Thanksgiving morning, sign the family up for a turkey trot, play some football, go for a bike ride, walk the dog. Get out and get some fresh air! Some gyms even offer specials the day after Thanksgiving, such as free admission if you bring in canned foods for the food pantry. Take advantage and get moving!
  1. Make the holiday one day, not the first step down a slippery slope. Get right back into routine the next day….your body will thank you.

For some great tips for saving money, time and calories this Thanksgiving, check out these tips from our friends at WVU Extension:

For some additional ideas, check out Eating Well and Cooking Light for great tips and recipes!





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