6 Tips to Get Through Thanksgiving Dinner in One Piece
By Alyssa Kessl, RDN, LD, Expert Dietitian
It’s officially fall, which means the holidays are just around the corner. As everyone knows, the holiday season is one of the toughest times of the year to stay focused on our health. Did you know that the average Thanksgiving dinner can set you back a whopping 4,500 calories? That’s more calories than you should eat in two days!
To help you get through Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve compiled six of my favorite tips.
Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast
Many people skip or limit their Thanksgiving breakfast in an attempt to save calories for later, but this is a big mistake. People generally eat more when they are hungry, which can lead to overeating. Research shows that consuming protein in the morning can significantly impact satiety later in the day, and can act on your brain to decrease the drive for sweets and treats.
So, instead of saving up for the big meal, nibble throughout the day on a healthy snacklike raw vegetables, nuts, or fruits to avoid overeating at dinner. And don’t forget breakfast! My favorite is a homemade omelet: use one egg and 2-3 egg whites; add in easy-to-cook veggies like spinach, mushrooms, or sautéed onions; and season with fresh herbs if you have them. To really round out the meal, add in fresh fruit and whole-grain toast.
Sign up for a Turkey Trot! Go for a walk with one of your family members who is visiting for the holidays before you head to Thanksgiving dinner – it’s a great way to connect and catch up. Join in on the flag football game or help clean up the dishes to burn additional calories after the meal.
It turns out that most traditional holiday dishes are not that unhealthy by themselves. The unnecessary trimmings that we add to the dishes – and large portion sizes – are what makes the calories and fat contents outrageous. Avoiding extras like butter, gravy, cream sauces, and pie crusts can help cut out those excessive calories. Instead, fill up your plate with healthy foods such as lean turkey meat and roasted vegetables, leaving only a small amount of space for a sweet treat or other unhealthy food.
Did you know that it takes 20 minutes for our brain to know that we are full? Because of that length of time, we continue to eat even when we’ve passed the threshold of having just enough. This often leads to overeating and feeling overly stuffed. It sounds silly, but many people don’t even realize when they’re eating. Taking the time to choose food you really want to eat and then actively focusing on enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each bite will naturally help you slow down and stop when you’re full.
Have a plan
Go into your Thanksgiving dinner with a plan. Pick one thing that will be your treat. For example, pick between dessert or wine – don’t have both. This will limit impulse decisions that may not be in favor of your nutrition goals.
Bring a dish
As always, bring a healthy dish that fits into your diet plan that you know you can enjoy! Try some of these mouth-watering recipes:
- Cauliflower Rice Stuffing
- Autumn Apple Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
- Kale and Sweet Potato Bake
- Grain Free Pumpkin Pie
Most importantly, take the focus off food! Remember the holidays are about spending time with your friends and family. It’s simple: enjoy your time together!
For more nutritional advice, you can check out our other weight loss blog posts, reach out to us, or fill out our consultation form to get started in our custom-tailored weight loss and nutritional guidance program.