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Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to reunite with family and friends. But it is also a time to put on weight. However, there are some things you can do to avoid this.
According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American consumes more than 4,500 calories during Thanksgiving. The average Thanksgiving dinner is an easy way to put on unwanted pounds or overindulge.
Here are 10 healthy Thanksgiving tips that will keep your family happy and body healthy:
1) Don't skip breakfast. Many people feel they can skip breakfast and "save" extra calories for later. However, skipping breakfast can make you hungrier and more likely to indulge in sweets and higher-fat foods later. Enjoy a healthy family breakfast by cooking dishes like eggs and whole-wheat toast or oatmeal with peanut butter and fruit.
2) Snack smart. Many families eat snacks before serving dinner. Eating a high-volume, low-calorie snack like veggies and hummus or a small handful of nuts can help tame your sweet tooth later. Skip the crackers and cheese or chips and gravy to save yourself unnecessary calories and fat.
3) Use healthier ingredients. If you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you're in complete control of what's in the food, so make it healthier by doing some swaps! If you are not a host, ask if you can bring a plate so you know there will be at least one healthy item at dinner. Use low-sodium broth instead of regular, fat-free Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, whole grains instead of white, applesauce instead of butter, and herbs and spices instead of salt.
4) Don't use pre-cooked turkey. Pre-cooked turkey contains more sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. To make a normal moist turkey, bake it with the skin on, then remove the skin when the inside of the turkey has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
5) Hide some vegetables. Due to the wide variety of dishes served on Thanksgiving, there are numerous opportunities to hide vegetables at dinner. Add kale to filling, serve roasted vegetables (such as sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and onions), use mashed sweet potatoes in place of sweet potato casserole, add whole corn kernels to cornbread, or serve pumpkin casserole in green bean stew place!
6) Try a new, healthier recipe. Instead of regular mashed potatoes, try mashed cauliflower. Add plain Greek yogurt to make it creamier, and flavor it with spices like garlic, basil, and oregano. Instead of candied sweet potato with marshmallows, roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil and cinnamon. Ask the children to participate by mashing the cauliflower!
7) Use whole grains. There are a wide variety of bread dishes served during Thanksgiving, so if you are in charge of preparing one, use whole grains instead of whites. Make or buy whole grain muffins, use whole grains in the filling, and whole wheat croutons. Whole grains contain more fiber than white flour, which can help keep your weight and your heart healthy.
8) Be mindful of dessert. There is likely to be a wide variety of desserts, so instead of gorging yourself or depriving yourself, pick one or two desserts that you really like, and enjoy them. Allow the children to do the same, and encourage everyone to have some fruit with their dessert!
9) Get some exercise before or after dinner. Get the family together to go for a walk or play a game of football. It will help you feel less tired after such a big meal, and it will also help your body absorb some of the excess sugar in your blood after eating so much.
10) Pay attention to when you are full. This may sound like a simple concept, but it's actually a lot easier said than done! Many people gorge themselves at Thanksgiving dinner, but your body knows when it needs more food and when it doesn't. If you're full, don't eat more, and encourage your kids to listen to their bodies, too. Remember, there is a good chance there will be leftovers and you will be able to enjoy meals another day
Thanksgiving is an important family holiday, so don't forget what it really means. Focus more on spending time with family than food and you will have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!