Psst! Want to hear something surprising? On Thanksgiving, Americans eat about 4500 calories, once they’ve put down their fork and finished that last bite of pumpkin pie. Wow! That’s about 1 1/2 pounds of food – in a single day, actually within a single meal for most people. There are some simple ways you can make your Thanksgiving celebration healthier for everyone, while still staying just as yummy. Interested? Take a look at these 10 Great Ways to Eat Healthy on Thanksgiving.
10 Great Ways to Eat Healthy on Thanksgiving
1. Start with healthy snacks
Do you love to gather everyone together with those tempting appetizers that everyone craves? Whether it is buffalo wings, mini quiches or something else that you can’t resist popping in your mouth, those calories really add up quicker than most realize.
Instead of cooking yourself into a frenzy, visit your favorite grocery store and get a big, pretty fruit or vegetable tray. Then make a fantastic DIY yogurt dip. We recommend starting with the low-fat Greek yogurt, because you’ll get that super rich taste that everyone swears is real sour cream – without being loaded with calories. Of course, if you still have the desire to make your own, try something like this delicious and easy to make Roasted Vegetable Platter.
2.Consider having something right before you serve the turkey
Now, a lot of families are called to the table when it is loaded down with a turkey ready to carve and all of the goodies are ready for them to add to their plates. Don’t do this! Instead serve something to slow things down a bit, as this will help to fill people up and actually lessen the impulse to overeat. You could start with one of your beloved side dishes, a vegetable such as yams that are done up fancy. A beautiful Fall salad like this Sautéed Squash and Quinoa salad would be perfect! Just choose something people enjoy, that isn’t full of calories, but that people will enjoy.
3. Be sure to include water glasses at your table
Yes, being a host of a holiday meal can be exhausting. That’s why you need to put one of the kids in charge of filling the water glasses. It is a known fact that people actually eat when they are dehydrated and need to drink water. So, start your meal with attractive ice water glasses filled on the table and keep having them refilled, whether people ask or not. This is so good for people’s health and will help people to consume fewer calories. Another idea is to serve infused water like this Cucumber Lemon Mint Water from Snacking in Sneakers.
4. If everyone agrees it’s not Thanksgiving without Mom’s famous Pumpkin Angel Food Cake – then be sure it is there!
We’ve been talking a lot about eating less and consuming fewer calories. But the holidays only come a couple of days a year. Every family has specific foods and treats that they only enjoy at holiday time. There is a huge difference between serving your family a meal that is chock-filled with calories from the very first bite to the last – and then a meal that has about 2 or 3 special treats that everyone can’t resist. That second meal is what you want to reach for. Yes, those treats will have more calories than regular foods and you should consume them in moderation. However, Thanksgiving comes once a year – so enjoy!
5. Get outside with your family on Thanksgiving
About 30 minutes to an hour of exercise is ideal for most healthy people. Even taking a simple walk together can be a great activity, and helps everyone burn some calories. In November in most parts of the USA, temperatures are still comfortable enough that you can get outside. You may have to put on a warm coat or sweater but get outside and get a little exercise!
6. Get the right amount of turkey for your dinner
Not every family needs an entire turkey…or a giant turkey. Yes, it may be on sale, but that doesn’t mean you have to cook it! If you have it on the table, people are more likely to overeat. If you serve people a standard portion of turkey, and keep a bit in the kitchen in case a few of your “good eaters” want a second helping (like your teenage boys), this is going to be more sensible and help cut the calories for most people. Here is an Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe from Simply Happy Foodie that has directions for a small turkey up to a large one depending on the number of people you are serving.
7. Add mushrooms and onions to your stuffing
Now there are lots of tempting stuffing recipes with high calorie items such as chestnuts and sausage. For a healthy Thanksgiving, you want to turn to the more savory vegetables instead for full, rich flavor. Cook them before putting them in the stuffing and then add your favorite spices and herbs to really punch up the taste. As most look forward to stuffing, this is an item that puts calories on a lot of plates at your table – by cutting the calories in this dish, you are being very helpful. Check out this delicious Gluten-Free Vegan Stuffing (pictured above) from Strength and Sunshine. Another great option is a Simple Apple Sage Stuffing from Lemons and Zest.
8. Choose a great desert – but keep it simple
We’ve noticed that some families are just as indulgent with dessert as they are with their dinner. Instead, we recommend you choose something light and ideal for everyone to have a single serving. Don’t be overly generous with dessert. By the time your diners have reached dessert time, they should be quite full. You don’t want this to be when they are able to add on another 1k calories to their meal. Keep dessert servings to about 300 calories if you can. The Cinnamon Apple Pumpkin Cake pictured above is surprisingly light and delicious! Another option is to serve bite sized treats like Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites.
9. 1 in 5 American children goes to bed hungry, do something to help them for Thanksgiving
Yes, your family probably will fuss and whine when they hear you are making Thanksgiving dinner healthier. While no one wants to eat extra calories, we still love our favorite treats. 1 in 5 American children goes to bed hungry, and yes, that’s even on Thanksgiving Day. Try to find a local project in your community that helps the hungry and donate some food as a family. Giving some canned or boxed food may seem like a simple thing to do, but to people in need, you are making a big difference.
10. A healthy Thanksgiving can still be yummy!
Have confidence that you can adapt and make switches in your Thanksgiving meal. Cutting calories in this big meal is a goal that every family should have, not just those who need to lose weight. No one needs to eat nearly 5k calories in a single meal. Healthy food can also be delicious. Look to adapt your current recipes if you can, or be bold and find new favorites that your family will now love!
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