Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. While it is a time for celebrating and spending quality time with family, Thanksgiving feasts can sometimes pose difficulty for those who are weight conscious. Losing weight during the holiday season can be an ambitious goal. There’s a number of celebratory events, and cold temperatures make exercise difficult. That’s not even considering the amount of leftovers! During Thanksgiving, the average American consumes well over 2,000 calories – generally closer to 3,000 – between snacking on appetizers, drinking alcohol, and the actual feast. However, eating healthy on Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a chore, and there are some simple things you can do to help keep your weight loss goals on track.
Make Some Healthy Swaps
We all have favorite holiday dishes that we look forward to all year long. Some people crave the stuffing, while others look forward to the cranberry sauce or the pumpkin pie. You shouldn’t deprive yourself of a food you truly love and look forward to. This will only serve to make your craving worse, which can result in bingeing. Therefore, to encourage eating healthy on Thanksgiving, it’s best to enjoy the dish you love as it was meant to be. Instead, try to make some healthy swaps for other, more negotiable dishes.
If all you look forward to in the month of November is your grandmother’s secret stuffing recipe, allow yourself to enjoy it with no changes or substitutions. You can choose a healthier option for a dish you’re less enthusiastic about, like mashed potatoes or cranberry sauce.
Mashed cauliflower can make a savory alternative to mashed potatoes. Boil or steam some cauliflower, and then blend it in a food processor or blender with some butter, scallions, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Roasted butternut squash and sweet potato drizzled with some olive oil make a delicious side that is both sweet and savory. Roast with shallot, garlic powder, and some salt and pepper to taste.
If stuffing isn’t your thing, or you’d like to accommodate someone with a gluten allergy, you can substitute quinoa instead of the bread in the recipe.
In order to cut down on added artificial sugars, go for a homemade cranberry sauce over the canned stuff. Take 6oz of cranberries and 6oz cherries (pitted and sweet) in a saucepan, add ¾ cup of apple juice, and bring it all to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes. You want the mixture to thicken. After it’s all done, seal tightly and refrigerate. It’s best if it sits in the fridge a day or two before serving. If you’d like it sweeter, add a tablespoon or two of honey. You can also add ½ teaspoon of minced ginger for an added zest.
Many people gather and watch football on Thanksgiving. For a healthier twist on chips and dip, replace sour cream with plain Greek yogurt, and replace the chips with veggies like carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, and cauliflower.
Keep It Fresh
Wherever possible, and when time allows, keep your ingredients fresh. Try to avoid the frozen food aisle. Freezing food strips it of its nutritional value. Overcooking foods will have the same effect on the micronutrients – the vitamins and minerals – as freezing does. Serve veggies lightly steamed or raw whenever possible. Keep in mind that this does not apply to starchy vegetables, like butternut squash and sweet potatoes, which need to be fully cooked to be easily digestible.
The idea is to consume the highest amount of nutrients from your food as possible. This will provide the biggest benefit to your body, while also making you feel fuller faster.
Try and Be Mindful When Eating Healthy on Thanksgiving
Don’t guilt yourself for indulging in some decadent holiday treats. It takes days of consuming more calories than you expend to have any lasting effects on your weight. That being said, be mindful of the food you are choosing. If you’re concerned about eating too much when you sit down to dinner, put salad on your plate first. Starting with some roughage, like a delicious kale salad with apples, dried cranberries, and red onion, can help you fill up a little before starting in on the turkey and stuffing.
Eating healthy on Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, you may find that you like some of these alternatives almost as much, if not more than their traditional counterpart!
Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are. She offers a variety of services, including medical weight loss. Take the first step on your weight loss journey today and call to schedule a consultation.