Tag Archives: #thanksgiving

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Festive Feasting

Satisfy your stomach in a way that will leave your heart feeling thankful this Thanksgiving.



Can you really have both? Is it truly possible to enjoy all of your favorite holiday dishes and eat healthy simultaneously? It may sound to good to be true, but there are plenty of ways that you can treat yourself to what you love, without reaping all the negative consequences. How well does the New Year’s diet resolution plan that you use every year as an excuse to splurge during the holiday season really work anyways? 

 For most of us, if we are honest, the half-hearted resolutions are not really that motivating, and it might be time to try to start adjusting our viewpoint. Instead of sporadic dieting, what if we adopted a new way of looking at food? What if we had a way to include our favorite foods in a healthy meal pattern that we could maintain throughout the year? No more guilt-ridden holidays!

 So let’s take a look at some “food for thought”  that will help you to make this Thanksgiving season, one in which your stomach and your heart will both leave the table feeling content.Some of these simple changes that you can make, that will have a big impact on your health, have more to do with how you eat, rather than what you are actually eating. Try these tips at your next holiday gathering OR how ‘bout every time you eat!

 Revise portion size – We gain weight when the number of calories we consume is greater than the number we expend, not necessarily based on the foods we eat. While this is not an excuse to constantly eat junk, it does help us to remember than moderation is the key. Typically in the United States, the portion sizes we eat are generally 2 – 3 times the recommended amount, so try cutting back just a little bit. Have one spoonful of sweet potato casserole rather than 2 heaping spoonfuls and then going back for seconds. (Or maybe, if you need to start smaller, simply choose not to go back for seconds.) Another trick to cutting back can be to use a smaller plate. Try using a 9-inch plate and filling one half with vegetables, and then have your carbohydrate and protein rich dishes on the other side. This will help keep your food group choices in better balance, too.

Listen to your body – Often times Thanksgiving is one of those days that we feel the need to stuff ourselves to bursting with all the delicious food that we only get to eat once a year! Sometimes, we starve ourselves all day to “make room” for the scrumptious afternoon feast. Both of these behaviors override our body’s natural signals of hunger and fullness, which ultimately leads to overeating and can disrupt our body’s normal metabolism. This Thanksgiving, try to listen to your body and ask yourself: Am I eating because I feel hungry or just because it tastes so good? Also, rest for at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds, as this will allow your brain to catch up with your mouth and begin registering feelings of fullness. This will keep you from leaving the table feeling like a stuffed pig. And remember, there are almost always leftovers – so it likely won’t be the last time this week that you have a taste of that delicious turkey dressing you’ve been waiting for all year.

 Savor, Savor, Savor – This thought goes along with the last point. As you listen to your body’s hunger signals, take time to enjoy the food you are eating. Try to eat slowly, relishing each bite. While this may sound silly, you might be surprised when you are satisfied with much less.

 Food OR Family – Remember, it’s not all about the food anyway. Whether you are celebrating the holiday with family, close friends or both, keep this in perspective. Ultimately, the holiday is about reflecting on the many blessings in our lives…like FOOD!! Oh wait, I meant…friends…and family. J Whatever your situation, don’t forget to take time to be thankful.

 In addition to how you eat, you may be interested in trying to change what you eat, too. If so this next section is for you, complete with ideas for how to make each component of your thanksgiving dinner more nutritious and a few sample recipes to get you started.

  • Turkey – When it comes to the main event, your Thanksgiving turkey, one of the easiest ways to cut back on calories and fat is to simply take off the skin before you eat it. The other calorie culprit here is the gravy, so try a low-fat version by skimming off the fat from the drippings before you make it. This way you can maintain the mouthwatering flavor, without the added fat.
  • Stuffing – No stuffing recipe is the same, so convincing you to give up Grandma’s recipe may be more hardship than it’s worth. However, there are a few quick tricks that you can use to beef up your favorite recipe. First, try adding extra vegetables, and be adventurous. Onions and celery are a great place to start, but what about some colorful peppers? Second, see what kind of grains your recipe uses. Could you substitute half the amount with a whole grain like quinoa? The skies the limit here, so get your creative juices flowing!
  • Fruit – Fruit is another item that tends to be doused in sugar during the holiday season. Try cutting the sugar in your fruit recipes by one third, or try honey or agave as a sugar substitute. This natural sweetener is more potent, so you can use less without loosing the sweet flavor. 
  • Dessert – Just about everyone’s favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is dessert, but oh, the choices you have to make…pecan or pumpkin…or both? Did you know that pecan pie has nearly 200 more calories per serving than pumpkin pie? That’s not to say that you can’t have it, but for those of us who like them equally, it might make you reconsider your choice. Here, the key is definitely moderation. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just have a small piece and savor it. Another way to cut down on unnecessary calories is to choose a light whip cream instead of full fat, or just skip it all together. 

Hopefully these tips have shown you how you can still enjoy all of your holiday favorites without the added cost to your health. Remember that each change you make will have you one step closer to a healthier Thanksgiving and a healthier you!

Written by: Rachel Harrod, Dietetic Intern 


holiday setting


Image via Livinggreenmag.com

Image via Livinggreenmag.com

The holiday season is a time of celebration where families, loved ones and friends gather together to enjoy time spent with one another, reminisce on days gone by, and also create sweet memories. This fun and festive season however, is often marked with the spirit of over-indulgence. In the few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, many people find it hard to stick to healthy eating. This by itself is no easy feat, especially when you have delectable sweet treats, rich food, and premium alcoholic beverages screaming at you from every angle. Before you know it Christmas has come and gone, and now you face the New Year with your clothes fitting a little snug.  You’ve done ‘it’ again and managed to put on a few pounds with ‘weight loss’ or ‘join a gym’ appearing at the top of your New Year’s Resolution list, just as it did last year, and the year before that.

 If you fall into this category, you are not alone. Studies show that the average American gains between 1-2 pounds during the holiday season. Although this number does not seem significant, the pounds can add up over the years making it harder to get rid of, and may even lead to you becoming overweight.  With that being said, here are some tips for you to enjoy the holidays without adding on the dreaded holiday weight.

1.       Stay active.  If you are not expending energy but are eating calories in excess of your daily requirements, you are at risk for weight gain. Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity 4-5 times a week.  Some examples including walking, biking, or even taking a dance class. Staying active will not only offset weight gain, but will boost your mood and help to relieve stress.

2.       Be mindful of your beverages. Alcohol can induce over-eating and can also pack a hefty amount of sugar and calories. This also goes for non-alcoholic drinks such as Punch and Egg Nog. Make water your beverage of choice primarily, as this does not contain any calories. You can also add lemon, lime, mint or cucumber to your water for added flavor. If you do decide to drink alcohol, limit yourself to one glass of wine or 1 bottle of beer per day.

3.       Modify holiday recipes. There are many substitutions that can be made to your favorite holiday dishes that reduce the fat and calories but still preserve the texture and flavor. Some examples would be using fat-free milk, yogurt or sour cream, in place of high-fat products such as whole milk. Apple sauce may also be substituted for oil in baked dishes. 

4.       Do not skip meals. It may sound like a good idea to skip meals during the day to compensate for a big feast later on but this is actually self-sabotage. Skipping meals may lead to a slower metabolism which contributes to weight gain. It can also lead to low energy during the day, and overeating later on.

5.       Maintain healthy eating habits. This extends to eating at least 3 balanced meals, with the inclusion of healthy snacks such as yogurt with fruit, or raw vegetables with hummus in between meals. Also, strive to eat your heaviest meal during the day while you are still active, rather than at night as this can promote fat storage.

6.       Follow mindful eating practices. This means you should eat consciously. Eat until you are just satisfied, but not stuffed. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are full. Therefore, you should pace yourself and take mindful bites of your food.  It is also a good idea to load up on fruits and vegetables which are rich in nutrients and fiber, and will keep you fuller longer, so you are less likely to overeat.

7.       Indulge with purpose. You can still make room of your favorite holiday treats by choosing to have smaller portions. Since most desserts are high in sugar, fat and calories, staying mindful of your portion sizes allows you to control your caloric intake and curb weight gain. Better still, choose fruits often as they are nutritious and also make delicious desserts.

8.       Make realistic goals. The holidays are a time of celebration, and food is an essential part of that. Rather than trying to lose weight during the holidays, it is best to focus on maintaining your current weight and enjoying the company of your loved ones.

Although the holidays can also be a stressful time, it is important to manage your stress effectively, as this can trigger increased cravings. Instead of forgoing all healthy behaviors during this season, implement the aforementioned tips so that you will be able to enjoy the holiday season to its fullest, and start off the New Year with a bang.