Thanksgiving is only days away and I can’t wait! I love the hustle and bustle of preparing
the menu as the big day approaches and mostly, I love catching up with my
entire family while enjoying the feast.
At my house, we make enough food to feed a small army and
aim to satisfy everyone’s tastes (in
addition to the basics, we make a turkey and
ham, two kinds of stuffing and five different kinds of pies!). And while I used to worry about weight gain
over Thanksgiving, I don’t anymore. Why?
Because it’s all about balance.
Here are my go-to
tips that will help you to enjoy your Thanksgiving Day meal and stay on track with your health goals…no
1. You know Thanksgiving is coming, so be prepared.
Be extra careful with your nutrition the entire week leading up to
your Thanksgiving Day meal. Make sure to eat balanced meals and
choose higher quality (natural, un-processed) foods as often as possible. Try not to have any "off"
meals leading up to the big day either; being consistent will stabilize your
blood sugar and keep you in “fat burning mode”.
Another way to prepare? Add 10 to
15 minutes of extra cardio each day leading up to Thanksgiving.
2. Help with the cooking. Because of my culinary
background, I’m responsible for preparing 90% of our Thanksgiving Day meal. Not
that I’m complaining; I honestly love every minute of it. I’ve found that by preparing the food, I tend
to eat a lot less when it’s time to eat.
Sure, I’m taste testing here and there but after all of the stress and
hard work that goes into preparing a huge feast, I don’t feel the need to
completely stuff myself. I'm not sure why this happens, but every year
without fail, it does! So this Thanksgiving, aim to help out in the
kitchen; you may find yourself eating a lot less at meal time.
3. If you’re a guest,
bring a healthy dish to the meal. Instead of smothering the sweet
potatoes in high calorie marshmallow, mash them with a few tablespoons of brown
sugar, a little real butter and sea salt instead. Prepare a green bean casserole with fresh
green beans, low fat milk and low-fat mushroom soup. Go light on the
fried onions or use sautéed onions instead.
Make mashed potatoes with low fat milk in place of whole milk or
cream and jazz them up with roasted garlic, sea salt and a little butter. Find a reduced-fat gravy online that appeals
to you. Offer to bring whole grain rolls in place of
white rolls. Get creative and
choose lower fat options when possible. You can even find healthier
versions of your favorite dishes online ahead of time and share with the
"chef" in advance to see if you can work
together to create a healthier meal.
Bonus: Try bringing our Whole Grain Cranberry and Walnut Stuffing,
Roasted Asparagus or Sweet Potato Soup, found in your Recipe Tab (“Sides and
Extras”) for a lighter take on some of your Thanksgiving favorites!
3. Remember to balance your plate. Choose a
protein first then add carbohydrates.
Don’t worry about adding fat; there will more than likely be plenty of
fat in each item already. Load up on white meat turkey for protein (skip
the fatty skin) and healthier sides like sweet potatoes, butternut squash and
veggies. If you want to indulge, take smaller amounts of the higher
calorie sides like stuffing to keep blood sugar from spiking too high.
4. Eat slowly and enjoy. Focus on your family
and friends, not just the food. Before going for seconds, ask yourself if
you're really hungry. If so, wait 15 to 20 minutes and see if the
5. Dessert is fine in moderation. I say… have dessert but take a smaller
portion than what you would normally would and savor every single bite. If
you know that dessert is your favorite part of the meal and you may want to
indulge a bit, go lighter on your carbohydrates with dinner.
6. If you have alcohol, choose a small glass of wine
or light beer. Drink a glass of water in between to keep from bloating.
7. If you’re hosting the meal, try to give away the
not-so healthy leftovers by making to-go plates for your guests. Save the
leaner stuff like the turkey and vegetables to have on hand for meals later in
the week. If you’re a guest, take a to-go plate of the turkey and
vegetables and skip the heavier sides.
A few tips: In
general, the least healthy options at a Thanksgiving Day meal are: Gravy,
mashed potatoes, stuffing, and desserts.
White meat turkey, vegetables and cranberry sauce are usually the
Lastly, most of us do overindulge on Thanksgiving. And that’s okay! The key is to get right
back on track 3 to 4 hours later with a balanced meal to stabilize your blood sugar. If it’s
time to eat again and you are not hungry, simply have protein and fat.
For some of us, it takes practice to learn how to let go of
the guilt that can accompany a holiday meal. Obsessing over the fact
that you overindulged is never a good
idea. Just pick back up where you left
off and get your cardio in the next day. Your body will never know the
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Venice Nutrition!
Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef