The center of attention on Thanksgiving Day is always the food. Sure, there are some families where a crazy uncle tries to steal the spotlight, but the real star of this holiday is the seemingly endless supply of turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pies and other goodies.
With so much great food, many of us think it’s impossible to stay healthy on this special day, but it’s not. Here are five tips to help you enjoy a healthier Thanksgiving and still eat plenty of delicious food. Now, that’s something to be thankful for!
- Lay off the skin – Even though turkey skin is tasty and hard to resist, eating even two ounces will tack an additional 220 calories onto your meal. By comparison, two ounces of mashed potatoes made with whole milk and butter total 70 calories. Two ounces of turkey breast are just 29 calories. So, before adding that turkey skin to your plate, ask yourself if it’s really worth the extra calories. If you’re still tempted, think about this. It takes roughly 50 minutes of raking leaves to burn off 220 calories.
- Have lunch – Knowing how much we look forward to Thanksgiving dinner and how busy we can be cooking or traveling to the host’s home, it’s not surprising that many of us skip lunch that day. This is definitely not a smart move if you’re looking to enjoy a healthier T-Day. Why? Because when we’re hungry, we tend to eat more than we normally would. So, make sure you have something small to eat a few hours before the big meal. It will help you to control your portion size when the feast begins.
- Slowwwww down – Another simple step for controlling how much food we eat on Thanksgiving is to slow down. With so much great-tasting food, it’s easy to see why many of us keep the fork constantly moving from plate to mouth. Eating slower can actually help you eat less. The TLC cooking website, http://tlc.discovery.com explains it this way: “During a meal, your brain receives signals from your stomach and intestines that tell it when you’re full. But it takes about 20 minutes for those signals to travel from your gut to your noggin. So if you’re a speed eater, wolfing down bite after bite in rapid succession, you can pack in a lot of extra mouthfuls – and calories – during that lag time. By slowing down, you give those natural signals of fullness a chance to register – so you can stop eating – before you’ve polished off way more food than your body needs.” Here are some techniques to slow down:
- Put your fork down after every bite.
- Swallow what’s in your mouth before putting more food on your fork.
- Take a one-minute break once or twice during the meal.
- Talk with the other people at the dinning table.
- Drink water – Having a glass or two of water about 30 minutes before mealtime is one of the easiest steps you can take to control how much food you eat on Thanksgiving. The reason is simple: water fills your stomach, reducing hunger.
- Go outside – After the big meal, don’t let the only running you do be your sprint to the couch for a post-meal nap. Instead, go outside for a few minutes to enjoy a healthy activity. Throw around a football. Kick around a soccer ball. Rake autumn leaves into a pile and let the kids jump in them. Go for a family walk.
If none of these post-dinner activities are appealing, spend a few minutes telling everyone how grateful you are to have them in your life. After all, studies show that grateful people are happier and healthier than those who don’t appreciate what they have.