5 Tips to a Healthier Thanksgiving

illustration by Kate Koenig

Alyssa Simon, Nutrition Columnist

illustration by Kate Koenig

It seems like just yesterday was Halloween, and now Thanksgiving is right around the corner! With Christmas music on radio stations and holiday decorations in the malls and grocery stores, it’s probably safe to say the holiday season has arrived. Soon enough, the family will gather around to celebrate with stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, casseroles, pies, cookies and other seemingly endless treats. Thanksgiving is a time of appreciation and being grateful for what you have, but if you are trying to watch your weight or your health, you might not feel so grateful for all that food. Here are five tips to help you have a healthier Thanksgiving:

1.) Get moving! The more you move, the more calories you burn and the healthier your body is overall. Go for a pre or post dinner walk or run, start a friendly football game, or even dance around while you cook. Any movement is better than none.

2.) Offer to host: If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you are in control of what is served. This means you can make healthy adjustments in your food; lower fat, lower sugar, baked instead of fried, whole wheat instead of white, or plenty of fresh (or steamed) vegetables and fruit!

3.) Offer to bring a healthy item: If you are not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, ask the host if you can bring something. This way, you will ensure that there will be at least one healthy item for you to enjoy. Bring a platter of fresh fruit, vegetables with hummus, or an entree dish like mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, or roasted sweet potatoes.

4.) Use moderation! According to the Calorie Control Council, the average Thanksgiving dinner can pack 4,500 calories! That’s more than most people need in two days. Since all those calories come from overeating, practicing moderation can help you enjoy your favorite foods without feeling guilty.

5.) Know your portion sizes. Being able to visualize portion sizes is a great way to help with moderation. A serving of turkey is 3 oz, which is about the size of a deck of cards or your palm. A serving of sauces (gravy, cranberry sauce) is ¼ cup and can be compared to the size of an egg. Sweet or mashed potatoes and stuffing should be ½ cup, which is the size of half of your fist. A serving of butter or margarine is 1 teaspoon, or the size of your thumb tip! A slice of pie should be approximately 1/8 of the pie, which can be compared to the size of a light bulb. A serving of wine is 5 oz and a serving of juice or milk is 1 cup. Don’t put a limit on fresh fruits and vegetables; feel free to scarf!

When Thanksgiving does come around, make sure you are focusing on your family and what you are thankful for more than your food. Remember the real reason you are celebrating, and have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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