The only thing that should be over stuffed on Thanksgiving is the turkey. With a tiny bit of prep you can ensure your meal is healthful and satisfying -- because not everyone wants to approach their holiday meal like Joey from Friends.
1. Contribute a Healthy Side: Whether you’re hosting the feast or attending as a guest, almost everyone contributes to the Thanksgiving meal in some fashion. Take this opportunity to prepare a nutrition-packed side dish. Need a few ideas? Try a Brussels Sprout Salad with Walnuts and Pecorino, a Roasted Vegetable Orzo or Rosemary Roasted Beets and Carrots. Choosing a seasonal vegetable-focused side dish will be appropriate for the occasion and provide a lighter option you know fits on a healthy plate.
2. Stay hydrated. Water supports cell structure and function, facilitates your body’s metabolic pathways and helps eliminate waste. Aim to drink enough water throughout the day so your pee is pale yellow in color. Being thirsty can be mistaken for being hungry, so drink up to help you better follow your hunger cues when you sit down to dinner (see #3, below). Drinking a glass of water right before the meal will also take up volume in your stomach to help you from overeating.
3. Eat Mindfully: I want you to enjoy every bite of food you eat on Thanksgiving day, but I don’t want you to push back from the table about to pop a button. Overeating can be uncomfortable and dampen your holiday fun. Try to eat normally before the big meal so you don’t sit down to the feast with a growling stomach. Fill your plate strategically (ideally, half with vegetables), and consider portion sizes for meat, starch and sweets. Take time between bites and allow yourself to really taste each fork-full. Chew slowly. Swallow. Breathe. Repeat. Slowing down will help you tune in and savor each bite, and it will allow your stomach time to communicate with your brain when it’s full – and then you stop.
While these tips are relatively simple, they can support a healthful approach to Thanksgiving and other holiday meals. Let me know how it goes!
Little gems of nutrition information and meal inspiration provided by a registered dietitian to help make your day healthier one bite at a time.