The time is upon us- a mere days until Thanksgiving feasting begins!
I have even more than usual to be thankful for this year. Since last year this time, I’ve gotten engaged to a man who is everything I could ever want, we’ve both found jobs that make us incredibly fulfilled, and our families are all healthy and happy. Life is good around here, life is very good.
With all of the changes this year has brought, also comes my first thanksgiving in a long time where it will not just be my intimate little family of 5. With the engagement ring comes the sharing of family holidays, and my future hubby’s family does turkey day on a much larger scale. I’m over-the-moon thankful that our families live close enough that we can split the day with both families.
But, with two families comes two dinners. While we won’t be eating the full meal at both houses, we will definitely get our share of festive food. My family is all about the daytime snacks & apps, and his more so about the main event. To survive Thursday without a self-induced food coma, I decided I need a game plan.
1. Veggies First.
Start by filling half of your plate with vegetables. This way you can still feel like you’re getting an over-sized helping of food, and ward off threats from your grandma if you don’t eat more, without feeling guilty and totally overstuffed afterwards. Vegetables are naturally low in calories and fat, and also full of fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies cannot digest, so it basically just helps keep you full and then pushes right along in your system. This helps you feel full without getting that *heavy* feeling you get from eating fatty or starchy foods.
2. Watch out for condiments.
While we’re on the topic of veggies, let’s talk about how we manage to negate all the good things they bring to the table. Consider green bean casserole: we’re taking super healthy green beans and coating them in a creamy (fatty) canned soup and then topping it with salted deep-fried onion bits. Beans are healthy- the rest not so much.
It’s the same story all down the line-up; super food sweet potatoes topped with melted marshmallows to innocent russet potatoes mashed with full sticks of butter and cream then doused in gravy.
But it’s what traditions taste like.
I’m not saying that we should reinvent Thanksgiving classics to become outstanding examples of healthy eating. This is not the day for steamed veggies,sir. We have 364 other days for that. Instead, try to minimize the damage. Don’t add extra salt or butter to things that are already prepared with these ingredients. You’d be surprised how easy it is to scoop around those french fried onions and marshmallows. You can still get the effect and flavor of the dish without eating a huge spoonful of melted ‘mallows or drowning your potatoes in gravy.
3. Take it easy on the stuffing.
Of everything on the table, stuffing offers the least nutritional value. While 100% delicious, stuffing is essentially just white bread. Since white bread is a simple carbohydrate, it almost instantly turns into sugar inside our bodies- leaving us hungry again shortly after. While we’re on the topic, try to stay away from the rolls for a similar reason. Odds are you won’t really miss them, and they fall into the exact same category as stuffing as far as what they do in our bodies.
4. Green-light the turkey. YOLO it.
As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving Super Foods post, turkey is one of the best meats you can possibly eat. It is very low in fat (before you coat it in gravy) and high in protein. This helps keep us feeling full and totally satisfied. White meat is lower in fat than dark meat, so for those of us that are already team white meat, enjoy without abandon. Turkey is the super star of the day, after all.
5. Eat the dessert you really want.
I would never tell you not to eat dessert on Thanksgiving. That’s just not the American way. However, we’ve all fallen into the “Come on- just have a little piece, it won’t hurt!” trap. Families can be the worst food bullies sometimes. They’re right, it won’t hurt- but if you didn’t really want it to begin with then odds are you won’t be happy with yourself or any more satisfied by eating Aunt Janet’s fruit cake.
Instead, have a reasonable helping of the dessert you want most. Eat that apple pie you fantasize about all year long- and enjoy every bite.