If you’re worried that Thanksgiving will set you on a downward spiral of unhealthy eating, you’re not alone. But rest assured – it’s possible to enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving dishes without ruining all those healthy eating habits.
Melissa Keeney, RDN, a registered dietitian-nutritionist with Hartford HealthCare shares some tips for a healthier Thanksgiving.
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Eat regularly throughout the day
Leading up to the big meal, make sure that you are following your typical eating routine. Eat regular meals and snacks beforehand.
“If you skip meals before your holiday hangout, you may be so hungry that you eat past fullness or eat so quickly you don’t enjoy your food,” says Keeney.
Make sure your meals and snacks include a carbohydrate, fat, protein and fiber.
Pre-party snack ideas include:
- Fruit with nut butter
- A handful of nuts and pretzels
- Greek yogurt with fruit
Don’t be afraid of desserts
Although desserts can be modified by decreasing the sugar or replacing the sugar, Keeney does warn that “decreasing sugar in your baked goods may change the texture.”
Your best bet? Have the real thing, since your favorite Thanksgiving dessert is a once-a-year treat.
If you’re still worried about your sweet tooth getting the best of you, try a baked desserts with fruit such as apple tart or cinnamon banana bread. The natural sweetness from the fruit may be enough to satisfy.
“A holiday fruit salad is another great way of adding nutrition and color to the table,” says Keeney. “Try apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi and pomegranate.”
What about diabetic guests?
People with diabetes can still enjoy carbohydrates, said Keeney, but they’re best paired with protein and a vegeable.
“If you eat the protein and vegetable before your carbohydrate, your blood sugars will stay more stable,” says Keeney.
Be mindful and enjoy!
“When you have your holiday dessert, take your time eating it,” says Keeney. “Take mindful pauses and tune into how your food looks, smells and tastes.”
Try putting your fork down between bites. You may find that you do not eat as much.
At the end of the day, Thanksgiving only comes around once a year so try not to be so hard on yourself.
“It is normal to eat more than usual on a holiday,” says Keeney. “You can always take home leftovers to enjoy the next day as well.”