By: Rebecca Stack, MPH, RD, LDN, Clinical Dietitian, Bryn Mawr Hospital
Be mindful of liquid calories.
Calories from eggnog, beer, soda, and wine go down easy and are not a healthful contributor to your intake. Alternatives include diet sodas and diet teas, low-fat eggnog made with low-fat or skim milk, mulled cider, and light beers. Alcohol, in particular, can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating. However, if you do not want to skip your holiday wine or specialty cocktail, try to drink 1 glass of water between each alcoholic drink- that will help you stay hydrated and slow down the rate of your alcohol intake.
Try not to eat anything you can’t put on a fork.
This encourages more mindful eating and requires you sit down, slow down, and use utensils. The calories in finger foods – such as chips and dip, cheese and crackers- can easily add up to over 500 calories before a meal even begins.
Plan additional activities.
Take the focus of the food by planning activities with family and friends that are not all about food. Take a walk before your Thanksgiving meal begins, coordinate a family football game, take a trip to the mall to check out the sales, or go see a holiday movie.
Do not go to a party hungry. Eat a protein-carbohydrate balanced snack (such as an apple and peanut butter or Greek yogurt and almonds) before heading out. Other tips include: use a small dinner plate, eat slowly, enjoy each mouthful, and remember to eat when you’re hungry and not just because food is near you.
Enjoy special treats in moderation.
Do not deprive yourself of holiday foods or feel guilty when you do enjoy them as this is not a healthful eating strategy. And if you overeat at one meal, go light on the next. It takes an extra 500 calories per day (or 3500 calories per week) above your normal or maintenance consumption to gain one pound.
If you know you are heading to a Thanksgiving party or dinner with lots of food, or lots of sitting around time, plan time for exercise. Put in an extra 15 minutes at the gym, or take an extra walk around the block. Even a moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. A simple 10 to 15 brisk walk, two times daily, can help do the trick!
Swap out unhealthy ingredients for healthier ones.
Make mashed potatoes with half the butter and instead add chicken broth and garlic to enhance the flavor. Make a crustless pumpkin or apple pie, substitute 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg in recipes, replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in recipes for cheesecake and cream pies, and top cakes with fresh fruit instead of icing.
Try new desserts.
Instead of the apple or sweet potato pie, try a baked apple recipe topped with 1 serving of low-fat or fat-free ice cream and cinnamon; or serve angel food cake with fresh fruit topping, and chocolate syrup. Modify your cookie recipes and use applesauce or mashed bananas in place of oil and butter, use whole-wheat flour instead of white flour, and add raisins, oatmeal, and walnuts to cookies instead of chocolate chips. There are always ways to sneak in that extra fiber and whole grain.
Looking for recipes to try out this Thanksgiving?
Visit the Main Line Health website for a list of healthy recipes to try out this Thanksgiving.