By Shawn McKee
Unfortunately, that game plan can be the beginning of the end for those of us trying to stick to a healthy diet.
Massive amounts of food are not only served at dinner, but they also fill the fridge for days after the event. Gravy-ladled, open-faced turkey sandwiches and leftover pumpkin pie with globs of whipped cream never looked so tempting.
Just writing this is making me hungry.
Most experts point to about 1-2 pounds of weight gain around the holidays, which can really add up as the years fly by. Registered Dietitian Nicole Bengtson, RD, LD/N, reminds us that “The holidays are about being thankful for what we have and celebrating with family and friends. You can still enjoy the festivities and the food without overstuffing yourself.”
So to avoid taking the best part out of thanksgiving, we’ve included several ways to lighten your meal without losing the flavor. Eating healthy without the hassle? Now that’s something to be thankful for!
One of the best ways to introduce change is to start small. Rather than revamping each one of your homemade recipes, rework only the side dishes or the desserts this year (these tend to contain the most fat and calories, anyway).
Do your best to cut unnecessary calories: offer skim milk for coffee, serve rolls without butter, and keep dressings and gravies on the side. Here are some more holiday tips:
Light is Right: Turkey is the main dish and can be quite lean, plus it’s a great source of protein. Just be sure to pick skinless white meat over dark meat with skin. You’ll save 60 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving.
Dress for Success: Fresh cranberry sauce is the preferred accompaniment for your holiday bird. Homemade turkey gravy can be loaded with fat and calories, which eliminates the calorie savings you get from opting for white meat.
Corn O’ Plenty: Thankfully, there are plenty of nutrient-rich veggies at the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Fill three-fourths of your plate with vegetables like steamed green beans, succotash, roasted Brussels sprouts, collard greens and corn. Leave the remaining portion of your plate for small portions of the turkey and stuffing. Just beware of the veggie casserole, which can be loaded with fat.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, there are some foods that can stand in for conventional dishes and give you the flavor of your favorites, while significantly cutting down calories and fat.
-Instead of two tablespoons of spinach dip, have hummus (save 120 calories and 12 grams fat).
-Instead of half a cup of eggnog, have a cup of hot mulled cider (save 80 calories and 9 grams fat).
-Instead of a biscuit, have a small whole-wheat dinner roll (save 100 calories and 8 grams fat).
-Instead of 4 ounces of ham, have skinless turkey breast (save 71 calories and 9 grams fat).
-Instead of an ounce of mixed nuts, have an ounce of roasted chestnuts (save 99 calories and 14 grams fat).
-Instead of a slice of pumpkin pie, have a cup of spiced fat-free vanilla pudding (save 140 calories and 8 grams fat).
-Instead of apple pie, have a baked apple (save 200 calories and 2 grams fat).
-Instead of 1/4-ounce piece of fudge, have a cup of fat-free cocoa (save 130 calories, 5 grams fat).
How have you lightened up your holiday dishes? Post below and let us know.
If you’re looking for more great tips to lose weight without giving up the foods you love, join eDiets and let our nutrition experts create a plan for your specific tastes and needs.