Nine Happier, Healthier Thanksgiving Tips
he holidays are here! I’m not just talking about a few. It seems like every holiday that is accompanied by at least one large meal all happen in November and December. In some areas even before Halloween has passed stores are already moving towards the holiday season with decorations all around. But that’s part of the wonder of the season. These holidays are a wonderful time to get together and celebrate everything that’s good in our lives. It’s a good time to look back on the year to see how far you’ve come and a good starting point to look forward to where you want to go. And right there at that center point is a ton of food that you’re expected to eat without thought. Here are nine useful tips that require very little thought but will make a massive difference during and after the holiday season.
Tip 1: Focus on the people rather than the food.
I know, I know, I know. This one might be the toughest tips on this list. There’s so much food! And we all have at least one person that we’re going to be around that, from the outset, we’re not looking forward to being around. The people are really the reason why you’re there. The meals are just an excuse to get everyone together. Ever have a party for no reason at all? The holiday meals are to get people together. Remember the reason why you’re connected and try to learn something new about those around you. My favorite question to ask? “Tried any new foods lately?”
Tip 2: Prepare vegetables by drizzling with olive oil and roasting them.
Almost everything seems like it’s some kind of casserole. Broccoli casserole. Green bean casserole. Sweet Potato casserole. Vegetables pack so much flavor and so many vitamins and minerals. A lot of vitamins and minerals are lost in the process of cooking over long periods of time. Casserole’s take a long time to cook and will remove some benefits of the vegetables they’re named after. Instead of packing those vegetables into a casserole, preheat your oven to 400F, spread you cut vegetables on a lined baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil over the vegetables, and bake for 20 minutes.
Tip 3: Going to a party? Bring something loaded with fruits and veggies.
While there’s usually one really big meal planned for each holiday, there’s plenty of parties and other non-specific gatherings that are going to ask you to bring something. Outside of a cookie swap, most of these parties are going to have an array of different foods. Of all of those different foods, you might find a single vegetable tray with a cup of ranch dressing in the middle. Put together your favorite salad with some salad dressing and take that instead. Trust me, other people with thank you.
Tip 4: Don’t drink your Calories, alternate drinks with water and limit alcoholic beverages.
Almost every holiday has a drink that goes with it just like a meal. Most of those drinks contain a lot of calories and aren’t helping to keep you hydrated. If you can’t drop them all together (myself included) then at least try to have a cup of water between those drinks. Another source of hidden Calories is alcoholic beverages. These become a greater issue the more you have. That loss of inhibition also leads to overconsumption of calories. If you decide to drink alcohol try to keep it to just one and always have a plan for a designated driver.
Tip 5: Choose the light meat and remove the skin.
The dark meat in poultry products such as thighs, drumsticks, and wings all contain a larger amount of saturated fat per ounce than the lighter breast meat. Removing the skin also takes some of the saturated fat with it. The reduction of saturated fat during the holiday season is good for a short-term reduction in Calories and if you can substitute with an unsaturated fat such as olive oil, a long-term reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. In fact, this helps to meet the recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to keep our saturated fat intake to ten percent or less of our daily calorie intake.
Tip 6: Skip the gravy and the butter.
Gravy and butter are likely the food items that have the highest concentration of saturated fat at our holiday meals. This tip is a little tricky. I’m not saying you need to entirely eliminate the gravy and butter. Some recipes don’t make sense to substitute something for butter because its use in baking and cooking varies greatly. However, that doesn’t mean you need it for a topping or that you need to add extra to a recipe. As far as the gravy, it doesn’t need to go on every single thing on your plate. If you’ve followed most of the tips on this list, you won’t be using much gravy at all.
Tip 7: Fill ½ your plate with a non-starchy vegetable.
Did you read the tip above this one? Like I said before if you’re following most of the tips on this list you won’t need much gravy at all. Especially here. Non-starchy vegetables are full of flavor on their own and the gravy is just going to hide that from you. Filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables also helps to limit the overconsumption of the concentrated Calorie casseroles around the holidays. Try to start with some light meat with no skin covering a quarter of your plate, non-starchy vegetables on half, and then a starchy vegetable in that last quarter.
Tip 8: Pick only one dessert.
I say only one dessert but what I’m talking about is one serving of dessert. I once heard a “three-bite rule” that made really good sense. A standard dessert or salad plate is about 7 inches in diameter. You should be able to fit three bites worth of multiple desserts on a plate that size. Granted, you’re going to be teetering on the edge of multiple servings following this plan. But if you’re going to better off if you keep your desserts to just one plate instead of more.
Tip 9: Be active! Bundle up and go for a walk.
No matter where you live there’s going to be some place to walk around. Whether it’s taking laps around the table or bundling up and walking outside. The World Health Organization and the United States Department of Health and Human Services both recommend that adults have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week (an average of 30 minutes, 5 days a week) and that aerobic activity, such as walking, should be done in bouts of at least 10 minutes. There are some additional benefits to taking a stroll following a meal such as an increase in the rate of the meal moving to your small intestine and better control of blood glucose. To get these benefits, go for a 15-minute walk within 45 minutes of finishing your meal. Don’t worry, that streaming show you’re itching to watch will still be available when you get back.
What are some things you do for a healthier, happier holiday? Looking for some nutrition guidance specific to your lifestyle and goals? Schedule your free meet-and-greet today and let’s get started.