It’s hard to stay healthy during the holidays, especially on Thanksgiving. Every year, families come together to thank, celebrate togetherness, and throw this much-anticipated Thanksgiving feast.
A day spent eating a big meal, taking a nap on the couch, and watching evening football may not seem like the perfect time for healthy habits. However, there are ways to have a healthier Thanksgiving.
Below are some simple Thanksgiving tips from Amanda Downs, a registered dietitian at Iredell Wellness & Diabetes Center.
Tip # 1: never miss a healthy meal twice
First of all, it is important to enjoy the holidays and the special foods that come with them.
âWe have enough stress in life. Food doesn’t have to be another, âDowns said.
Eating just one unhealthy meal will not have a significant impact on your health or cause you to lose your usual eating habits. However, when that day turns into a week, month, or longer, it can be difficult to get back on track.
To avoid this pattern, don’t miss a nutritious meal twice in a row. For example, if you start your day with a nutritious breakfast and then eat a larger, higher calorie lunch, try not to repeat that meal for dinner, but go for a healthier option.
âThe holidays are not a great time to set weight loss goals. Instead, it’s often more realistic to focus on maintaining the weight, âshe said. âThat being said, if you’ve always had good eating habits, we want this to continue. “
Downs recommends making new dishes or modifying old recipes to make them a little lighter. Using less butter, salt, and sugar is a good start.
You can make your favorite annual recipes, but reduce the recipe size to avoid leftovers. If you have any leftovers, try sending them home with a friend or family member, or freeze them for another time.
Tip # 2: Add vegetables to your typical Thanksgiving plate
âIt’s easy for many Thanksgiving veggie dishes to have extra calories from the added cheese, cream soups and butter,â Downs said.
Instead of a pot of broccoli this year, try tossing your broccoli in olive oil, adding herbs and seasonings, and roasting it in the oven. It can add flavor and texture without all the extra fat and calories. You can also try this with other non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus.
Starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and peas will add a bit more carbohydrates to the meal compared to the non-starchy vegetables mentioned above.
âMost Thanksgiving holidays are high in carbohydrates. So to create a well-balanced meal, I suggest including lean protein, like turkey, fish, or chicken, along with both starchy and non-starchy vegetables, âshe said.
Tip # 3: take small bites
If you’ve ever made turkey, you know it tends to dry out when it’s cooked. And sometimes dry food gets stuck in our throat and can pose a choking hazard.
âAny food can pose a choking hazard if not eaten carefully, but especially if it’s a drier, denser protein, like turkey,â Downs said.
To avoid this, Downs recommends taking smaller bites of all foods and placing your fork between bites to chew the food well.
âTake your time when you eat and really enjoy the smell, taste and texture of the food. It adds a little extra gratitude for the delicious food you eat, especially on Thanksgiving when we eat foods that we only really enjoy once or twice a year, âDowns said.
Tip # 4: stay hydrated
Calories from sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea, fruit juices, and alcohol can add up quickly. This is because your body does not know the difference between liquid calories and solid calories; he just knows how to store calories if he gets too many.
To stay hydrated throughout the day, try to drink at least 48 to 64 ounces of water per day. Keep a water bottle with you everywhere – in the car, at your desk, in the kitchen, in the store, or on your nightstand – to remind you to keep sipping all day.
Tip # 5: Avoid Thanksgiving Dinner Fatigue
We’ve all had that groggy, lethargy feeling after Thanksgiving dinner – the dreaded food coma. But how to try to avoid this drowsiness?
Downs recommends getting out, going for a short walk, and taking some vitamin D.
âIt takes some of the attention away from food and can help you feel more energetic and positive,â she said.
Plus, not eating all day in anticipation of the Thanksgiving feast can contribute to your fatigue.
âLarge meals, especially those that are high in carbohydrates, are usually the culprits for this after-meal drowsiness,â Downs said.
Amanda Downs is a registered dietitian at the Iredell Wellness & Diabetes Center located at 235 N Main Street, Suite D, in Troutman. If you want to make an appointment with Downs, talk to your primary care provider about a referral. For more information, please call the wellness center at 704-878-4556.
Looking for a healthy vegetable to add to your Thanksgiving meal? Check out the recipe below.
Asparagus in lemon sauce
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 20 medium asparagus tips, rinsed and trimmed
- 1 fresh lemon, rinsed (for zest and juice)
- 2 tablespoons of light mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- A small pinch of salt
- Place 1 inch of water in a 4 quart saucepan with a lid. Place a steamer basket inside the pan and add the asparagus. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook, 5 to 10 minutes, until the asparagus are easily pierced with a sharp knife. Do not overcook.
- While the asparagus cooks, grate the lemon zest in a small bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Use the back of a spoon to extract additional juice and remove pits. Add mayonnaise, parsley, pepper and salt. Mix well. Put aside.
- When the asparagus is tender, remove the pan from the heat. Place the asparagus tips in a serving bowl. Drizzle the lemon sauce evenly over the asparagus (about 1Â½ teaspoons per serving) and serve.
Serving size: 5 lances. Amount per serving: 39 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g cholesterol, 107 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 241 mg potassium.