Every year, millions of Americans participate in the ritual of the Thanksgiving Day festivities. People schlep cross-country to visit family for that yearly meal, which generally consists of the large bird as the center piece along with any number of carbohydrate and fat filled accompaniments.
A typical Thanksgiving Day meal can add up to more than 2500 calories. That’s more than an entire day’s requirement in one sitting. So how do you enjoy the Thanksgiving Day festivities while still keeping your waistline, arteries, and heart happy? Here are 8 painless ways:
- Set The Tone.
If you are the host, let everyone know that you want Thanksgiving Day to be both happy and health. Since people tend to have trouble handling too many changes at once, consider making only a few healthy changes to the traditional menu. If any of your guests offers to bring a dish, encourage them to take a healthy spin on it.
- Add a salad to the menu and serve it first.
If you are the host, add a fresh garden salad with olive oil dressing to the menu and just like they do in the restaurants, serve it before the main course. If you are a guest, offer to bring a salad. The salad will help to take the edge off your hunger so you won’t be tempted engorge yourself once the main course is served.
- Water, water, everywhere.
If you are the host, have water right next to the other beverages. If you are a guest, make an effort to drink a full glass of water before you begin eating anything. Thirst may actually mimic hunger, but in addition to that, water is a wonderful appetite suppressant. It immediately gives the sense that something is in your stomach, so your brain is tricked into believing you are no longer as hungry and you are less likely to overeat.
- Warm the Spirits
Warm beverages such as tea and coffee can be a wonderful addition to the Thanksgiving Day meal. They are great during the pre-meal conversation, and since the weather is likely to be on colder side, they can make for a soothing sensation. More importantly, coffee, as well as tea (especially the green variety) can also help to curb your appetite. Consider having one cup of coffee or tea prior to your meal. Check to make sure there are no contraindications to you drinking caffeinated beverages, and make an effort to avoid adding sugar.
- Shake up the dessert menu.
Instead of only pies and cakes on the dessert menu, consider adding a fresh fruit salad complete with plain low-fat Greek yogurt and granola. Many times if people are offered a healthy option they may choose it. Adding the yogurt and granola will also make it feel less like fulfilling the recommended daily allowance of fruit and more like a smart, sophisticated, and delicious dessert.
- Bake that Bird.
A few years ago, deep-fried turkey was all the rage. People burned themselves and their homes in an effort to attain the perfectly fried bird. What we know is that there are very few places where fried and healthy appear together. So in the name of preventing injuries, fires, and clogged arteries, consider getting a baked turkey instead.
- Eat consciously
The truth is, no matter how many healthy options are added to the menu, it is you the consumer of the meal, who is in control of what goes in your mouth. So make a conscious effort to take an extra serving of healthy. Pile on the collard greens, the vegetables, and fruits, and put less of the potato salad, candied yams, or meat on your plate. Once you have made your plate vegetable heavy, sit and complete what’s on your plate before adding anything extra. This will lessen the chance of you adding more macaroni and cheese before the meal is over. In fact, take it a step further and consider eating only ¾ of what is on your plate.
- Eat slowly.
When eating a meal, it takes some time for the stomach to convey to the brain that it is full. When you eat quickly, you risk overeating before the message is delivered. By eating slowly, the communication is more efficient and you will have fewer tendencies to overeat.
Now go ahead, get all the family and friends over and put the healthy back into the Thanksgiving Day meal without feeling like you are depriving yourself. Have a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving Day.