Pumpkin pie, turkey & dressing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. If that list of Thanksgiving delectables doesn’t make your mouth water, then I don’t know what will.
The holidays can be a daunting time to eat healthy with so many tantalizing foods surrounding you, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are my top 10 tips for enjoying Thanksgiving without sabotaging your health:
10. Make traditional Thanksgiving foods but healthier. Opt for low-fat or fat-free broth, milk, sour cream (or nonfat Greek yogurt), and cream cheese whenever possible. Use less sugar, butter, and oil wherever you can. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, 3/4 cup is usually sufficient.
Sweet potato casserole is loaded with butter, cream, and sugar. For a healthier alternative, roast sweet potatoes with a few tablespoons of maple syrup. Steam or roast broccoli and green beans. Serve salads, fruits and raw veggies.
Try my Mom’s amazingly simple cranberry relish without all the additives and sugar found in canned cranberry sauce.
Fresh Cranberry Relish
2 pounds of fresh cranberries
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of orange liqueur
1 orange, zest, juice & sections
Process all ingredients together. Best when made the day before. Keep refrigerated.
9. Eat breakfast. Often when we know we’ll be having a big meal later in the day, we skip breakfast. Then, when meal time rolls around, we’re starving. That’s when we overeat. The key to eating in moderation is to eat throughout the day, so you don’t overcompensate later.
8. Exercise the morning of. There are numerous Turkey Trots and races on Thanksgiving Day. Take advantage of the family time and participate together. Or just go for a hike or stroll in your neighborhood. You will feel good, and if you overindulge later, at least you’ve burned a few hundred calories to cover it!
7. Use the smallest plate. If you have a choice among different size plates, leave the platter for the turkey, and pick up a salad plate instead. This strategy will help you keep your portions under control. Just make sure you heed tip #6.
6. Say “no” to seconds. Unless you’re going back for fruits & veggies, don’t even entertain the thought of seconds, especially if you intend to have dessert. Eat slowly, enjoy your plate of food, and put your fork down between bites.
5. But say “yes” to your favorite foods — in moderation. You do want to enjoy Thanksgiving, don’t you? Eat the foods you love but in small portions. I don’t love mashed potatoes, so instead of wasting my calories on them, I will choose a small helping of squash casserole or macaroni & cheese instead. Skip the foods you don’t love so you can eat a bite or two of the foods you adore.
4. Go for the rainbow! As you survey the buffet of food options, try to select at least one food from each color of the rainbow. Otherwise, you may wind up with a plate full of yellows and browns. Choose salad, fruits and raw or steamed vegetables.
3. Choose turkey over ham. Ham is full of saturated fat, which is not good for your colon and heart health. Instead, stick with a 4-ounce portion of turkey, minus the skin, which is loaded with fat and sodium.
2. Stay hydrated. Sometimes when we think we’re hungry we’re really just thirsty. Forgo the soft drinks and tea, and drink water instead. Staying hydrated also means watching your alcohol intake. Calories add up fast. Opt for a glass of wine or beer instead of a higher-calorie cocktail.
And my No. 1 tip for eating healthy on Thanksgiving . . .
Enjoy your company. Remember the reason for this holiday season, and celebrate the blessings of family, friends, health and home. If you overindulge, you can start fresh tomorrow. Today, make Thanksgiving about people, not food. Slow down & count your blessings.
What’s YOUR No. 1 tip for eating healthy during the holidays?
If you’re looking for colon-healthy recipes for Thanksgiving or any day, follow my “Colon-Healthy Recipes” board on Pinterest.