Keeping it light on Thanksgiving
Each week, a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center provides a guest post on healthy eating. Have questions or ideas for future topics? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. This week, Karen Kolowski weighs in on holiday eating.
It’s the time of the year where sensible eating takes a vacation and unwanted pounds start to appear. Instead, you can plan a healthier Thanksgiving dinner. These tips can help guide you through the day without guilt.
Start your day right Thanksgiving morning, don’t skip breakfast thinking that you won’t “fill up” for the impending feast. Make sure you have a sensible breakfast that keeps you satisfied to thwart the cravings to sneak a taste while cooking. Some options: oatmeal made with skim milk and topped with fruit (frozen works well); an egg with whole wheat toast; or peanut butter and bananas on whole wheat toast. Be sure you make a choice with whole grain (oats, whole wheat breads) and some protein (meat, cheese, nuts and eggs). This combo will let you feel fuller for longer.
Keep it moving Most people in the United States gain at least a pound from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, which is not much, but most keep it on throughout the year. Try starting a new tradition by going for a morning run or brisk walk, which helps create a caloric deficit. After your family meal, fight the temptation to stretch out on the couch and watch football. Instead, play a family game of football outside. By teaching your kids good habits at an early age, you help them appreciate a healthy lifestyle.
Cocktails Thanksgiving gatherings that include a drink buffet can be a surprising cause of a rather hefty caloric intake. Beer contains approximately 150 calories per serving, depending on brands/types, and wine can be up to 80 calories per glass. Drink water to feel full and stay sober between alcoholic beverages and fight off the unwanted calories. Remember to limit alcoholic drinks to one drink for women and one to two drinks for men. Juices and cocktail mixes can also be a source of calories, so watch the portions.
Portion distortion Thanksgiving should not be thought of as an all-you-can-eat buffet or a guilt-free day. You should continue to practice, or start to practice, smart portion control. Fill up half of your plate with veggies; not cheese or butter-laden ones but salad, roasted or steamed vegetables. Turkey, without the skin, or another meat served that day could fill up a quarter of your plate. The final quarter can be reserved for starches of your choice: mashed potatoes, yams or rice. Another trick is to serve dinner with smaller plates. Your plate fills up quicker and you are forced to take smaller portions. It takes 20 minutes to feel full after you eat, so wait before you reach for seconds — you might already have had the perfect amount.
Honorable chef If you happen to be the chef this year, do yourself a favor and cook smarter. Substitute lower fat ingredients, and your guests will be none the wiser. By using olive oil instead of butter on your turkey, you will avoid heart-clogging saturated fat (bad fat) and serve up heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. If your recipe calls for whole milk, swap it for 1 percent: this saves you 63 calories and 8 grams of fat per cup. Use low-fat cheese instead of regular, but avoid the nonfat kind since it won’t melt and incorporate into the recipe as nicely.
Leftovers If you are able to part with your delectable leftovers, package them up and send some home with each guest. This way they have a nice reminder of the meal you shared together the night before, and it removes the temptation for you to pick. But if you just can’t imagine sending all your food away, be creative with your leftovers. Make a turkey noodle soup with lots of vegetables or dumplings that you can steam.