Every year, millions of Americans look forward to Thanksgiving: a day of celebrating, giving thanks, and eating delicious foods. But for people with chronic diseases, those on a diet, or those just looking to maintain a healthy diet, Thanksgiving can be scary and intimidating, and it can be hard to resist breaking good habits for a day of indulgence.
That’s why we’ve got eight tips for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. We know that not everyone can control the meal they eat, so we’ve split our tips into advice for chefs and advice for guests.
Four healthy substitutions (for chefs):
For the stuffing, try this wild rice version instead, packed with healthy grains and veggies. And bake it as a dressing instead of cooking it inside the turkey where it will absorb unhealthy fats.
In baked goods, replace half the sugar with applesauce. Applesauce can also be used a binder instead of eggs.
In the mashed potatoes, use some of the potato water to regain lost nutrients and substitute buttermilk for the butter.
And finally, for the pumpkin pie, most of the calories come from the crust so use a healthy graham cracker crust instead of a traditional buttery one.
Four ways to watch your intake (for guests):
Remember MyPlate: you want at least half a plate of fruits and veggies (load up on sides!), a little more than a quarter plate of grain, and less than a quarter plate of protein and dairy.
Turkey is one of the healthiest meats, so don’t stress too much about having some in moderation. Avoiding the skin can help save on some extra calories though.
If you don’t want to count calories during the meal, get extra exercise beforehand so you build a calorie deficit. And instead of going into a food coma, take a brisk walk with your family right after the meal.
Finally, make sure to savor the meal! Thanksgiving only comes once a year, so eat slowly, put down your fork, taste each bite, keep up the good conversation, and get plenty of water to drink. This way you can truly enjoy the meal and avoid overindulging.
With these healthy Thanksgiving recipes and tips for maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can have a great holiday with no regrets.