It’s that time of year again – holiday season! Here’s something to look forward to: between Turkey day and the New Year the average person will gain between 7 and 10 pounds. The good news is that you can avoid these additional pounds with a little know how.
For most of us the holiday pounds start with Thanksgiving dinner. Did you know that the average person consumes around 3,500 calories on this day alone? Yikes. That equals one pound in extra calories – not to mention the leftovers you will be eating days afterward. Take these tips and make Thanksgiving a guilt free day this year:
Tip #1: Take 2 steps to start your day right.
Step One: Eat breakfast. You see, most people skip breakfast on Turkey day in order to ‘save room’ for the feast – maybe you have done this yourself. When you eat a healthy breakfast that is high in both fiber and protein two great things happen.
Your metabolism is started early in the day, thus catapulting you into full fledged calorie burning mode. This will come in handy later in the day.
You won’t be famished when you sit down for dinner, so you will have less room to binge. (This means fewer calories land on your waist.)
Step Two: Exercise for 30-60 minutes. I know exercise is the last thing on your mind on a busy holiday, however it is worth your effort. You will negate some of the extra holiday calories and your metabolism will climb even higher.
Tip #2: Lighten the menu.
If you’re in charge of the menu this year then you are in luck. As chef you can make a few modifications to the meal that will drastically reduce the fat and calorie intake of each guest. Do the following to lighten your feast:
- Instead of cream-based dip for your veggie platter, use dip made from nonfat yogurt or nonfat sour cream.
- Replace traditional stuffing with an assortment of chopped vegetables. Fill your turkey with mushrooms, eggplant, onions and celery. Or, replace half of your traditional stuffing with chopped vegetables.
- Flavor your mashed potatoes with roasted garlic instead of butter. Or serve baked sweet potatoes instead of butter laden mashed potatoes.
- Roast vegetables without oil – use cooking spray instead and toss them with dill.
- Use unsweetened apple sauce or pureed plums instead of butter or oil in dessert recipes.
- Put out an assortment of fruit for dessert instead of pies.
- Make the recipe for Low Fat Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole below.
Tip #3: Use strategy.
Traditional Thanksgiving food items weren’t all created equal – nutritionally that is. Roasted white turkey meat (without skin) is a great source of lean protein. Vegetable dishes (without added fats) are also very healthy.
On the other hand, buttery mashed potatoes, white bread rolls, cream based dishes, and heavy gravy are all packed with fat and calories.
Fill your stomach with the healthy items first – white turkey meat and plenty of vegetables. Then simply ‘sample’ the less healthy items in small portions. This simple strategy will save you tons of extra calories and it won’t leave you feeling cheated.
Tip #4: Pace yourself.
Most people get into trouble at Thanksgiving dinner by eating full speed ahead until they finally realize that they are full (after their second and third helping). The trouble with this method is the lag time in communication between your stomach and brain.
You see, you may have satiated your hunger with the first helping, but it takes a little while for your stomach to communicate that message to your brain. And during that lag time you took the opportunity to your second and third plate of food.
This year sit calmly in your chair after that first plate and wait at least 20 minutes before getting seconds. You will be surprised to find that the thought of more food doesn’t sound good anymore – and you will have saved yourself unnecessary weight gain.
Well, there you have it: four tips that will get you off to a fit and healthy holiday season. From breakfast to dessert recipes you can lighten your Thanksgiving feast with turkey protein and vegetables dishes to limit your calories.
Low Fat Green Bean Casserole Recipe
One can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1-1/4 pounds green beans, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces, cooked until crisp-tender
1/2 cup canned French-fried onions
Mix soup, sour cream, and milk in 2-quart casserole; stir in beans. Bake, uncovered, at 350-degrees until mixture is bubbly, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle onions on top during last five minutes of baking time. Recipe makes six servings.