Giving Thanks for a Healthy Holiday
At Gourmet Services we know that tempting holiday sweets and dinners made of “once a year” comfort foods wreak havoc on our healthy diets and hard-earned summer bodies. Thanksgiving dinner hasn’t traditionally been the fittest of meals, however, there are certain tricks to make the day a little healthier, and to avoid the uncomfortable food coma while sitting in front of the television. Whether you’re constructing your own plate, or you’re at the mercy of relatives serving plates piled high with portions of “a little bit of everything,” knowing which foods we should eat more of and which ones we should enjoy only a few bites of will help us make the best possible health choices.
Portion control is the key; try piling up one-quarter of your plate with turkey breast, filling half your plate with vegetables, and leaving the remaining one-quarter for starchy sides. Turkey is relatively low in calories if you stick to skinless white meat, so nutritionists don’t mind if you eat a little more than the recommended 3 ounces of protein (about the height of a deck of cards and the length of an iPhone 6 plus [5.5 inches]). Filling 50% of your plate with non-starchy veggies may include Brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, bell peppers, or even a leafy-green salad. Put colorful vegetables together in dishes and use herbs, spices, onions and garlic to flavor them to add fewer calories (Tip: try cooked carrots and cumin or Brussels sprouts with garlic). You can also add a healthy twist to classic comfort foods, like replacing green bean casserole with some grilled green beans flavored with garlic and red pepper flakes. Stick with smaller portions of starchy veggies, such as corn, potatoes, green peas, and winter squashes. Choose your favorite sides that you only see around the holidays and try to keep servings to a half-cup. One serving of starchy sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, and cranberry sauce is equal to ½ cup (the size of half a baseball), and count casseroles of any type as a starch. Even vegetable casseroles, like broccoli casserole and green bean casserole, often call for creamy soups, sticks of butter, and large amounts of cheese in their ingredient lists, which help contribute to the excessive amount of calories and very high sodium – and we all know that sodium leads to water retention and belly bloat.
Most pies are cut into eight slices, if your pie is only sliced into six pieces; your portions are probably too large. A trick if you’re trying to cut back is to limit variety, if there’s only one type of pie to choose from, you’ll probably stick to one slice. Also, dairy-lovers, ice cream or whipped topping isn’t always a requirement; but if you can’t resist the temptation and are going to top a slice of pie with one of the two toppings, try to keep it to a golf ball-sized amount. Instead of picking at the leftovers and/or helping yourself to another piece of dessert, offer to help the host clean up. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and physically removing yourself from the table will help take your attention away from the food. Afterwards try taking a brisk walk, it’ll help you burn calories and more than likely put you in the right mindset to turn down that second piece of dessert.
Don’t forget, if you munched on cheese and crackers all day while cooking; know that those calories add up, as well. If you’re hungry while cooking, try snacking on raw veggies and hummus or fruit. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays when people plan to eat until they’re stuffed. Instead of seeing how much you can eat, serve yourself small servings of everything you want, however, have only enough to be satisfying without overdoing it.
Thanksgiving is only one day. And if done right, you won’t set yourself back too far on the scale – because remember, Christmas is right around the corner.