Tips for a Leaner Thanksgiving

by Staci O’Connor MS, RD, CLC, CDN

Thanksgiving only comes around once a year but you can still satisfy your desire for traditional family favorites and enjoy a guilt-free Thanksgiving by following the below tips.

  • Stay active and create a calorie deficit by exercising before you indulge in your favorite foods. Remember the phrase:  Eat less and exercise more.  Make fitness a family adventure by taking a walk early in the day before the main meal and again after or even consider tossing around the football or shooting hoops.
  • Remember to start your day by eating breakfast! Eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite.  Start your day off with a small but satisfying breakfast such as: scrambled eggs mixed with vegetables on a slice of whole wheat toast or a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit and nuts.  By incorporating breakfast you will not be starving when you arrive at your Thanksgiving gathering.
  • Make your recipes healthier with less sugar, less fat, and less overall calories. Whether you are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes, look for recipes that use lower calorie ingredients.  For example:  use fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey or try plain non-fat Greek yogurt in creamy dishes or in mashed potatoes.
  • Watch your portions. Survey the buffet table first so that you can decide what foods you are going to eat.  Next select a reasonable sized portion of the foods that only come around once a year.  Remember to fill half of your plate with vegetables and try to resist going back for seconds.
  • Savor your meal. Eat slowly, put your fork down between bites, and taste each mouthful so that you can enjoy your meal and feel satisfied instead of stuffed.
  • Go easy on the alcohol. Alcohol calories can add up quickly.  Have a glass of water between alcoholic drinks to stay hydrated and to limit calories.
  • Finally, focus on your family and friends. The holidays are a time to celebrate relationships and the quality time together not just what is on the buffet table.