Every year Americans celebrate Thanksgiving by planning a feast fit for kings. After all, we’ve had 150 years to perfect the turkey, pumpkin pie and a host of delicious side dishes for this momentous occasion. In fact, most of us spend the entire day eating foods that we may not otherwise eat all year long.
If you’re overweight or obese and are dieting or had bariatric surgery, Thanksgiving dinner could be hazardous to your success. However, not everything at the table is bad for you, and by making simple, swappable choices, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be the calorie-laden bender that it is for millions of Americans each year.
The key to successfully staying-the-course is to plan ahead. Whether hosting the party at your house, or attending a dinner elsewhere, there are decisions that can be made ahead of time to provide some satiating options so you don’t overload on empty calories.
If you’re hosting the party, plan to win with these options:
- Choose recipes that are rich in flavor, but low in calories. Cauliflower mashed potatoes or skinny stuffing anyone?
- Have guests bring healthy side dishes, and ask that they refrain from bringing mashed potatoes made with cream or yams with marshmallows and brown sugar.
- Instead of all food being served at once, set out appetizer options that include veggies for dipping instead of crackers, or choose salsa instead of spinach dip.
- Explain to others that your menu will be including health-full items this year, and that perhaps instead of bringing a treat to share, maybe they bring along a new tradition; game or conversation starters like Table Topics.
For you social media fans, sites like Pinterest can be a fun planning tool if you search for key words like “healthy Thanksgiving.” Or ask Facebook or Twitter friends what their favorite healthy recipes are for the holiday.
Planning on eating at someone else’s house? No problem with these simple steps:
- Consider calling the host and asking about the day’s menu. By knowing what will be on the table, it will be easier to plan for those foods you know you can’t live without, while deciding that others might be skippable.
- If you enter the room hungry, and everything looks palatable, chances are it’s going to be harder to make smart choices. Bring your own snacks, side dish or dessert. What tempts you the most? Bring something as a replacement for that item. Better yet? Eat enough healthy, satisfying foods throughout the day so that you don’t show up famished to the feast.
- Make substitutions where you can. Instead of eating that healthy-sounding, but calorie-laden, pecan pie, choose pumpkin. Or eat the steamed green beans with almonds instead of the green bean casserole.
Of course there is always exercise to help with some of those extra items consumed on Turkey Day. It’s important to not only make better decisions about food, but to also stay active. Before the tryptophan in the turkey kicks in and you’re passed out in a food coma on the couch, decide on some heart-pumping activity to get your body in motion:
- In most areas, you can find a local turkey trot on Thanksgiving morning. Sign up and commit before sleeping in becomes too tempting.
- If attending someone else’s party and you can’t commit to that turkey trot, recruit a partner and go for a walk after dinner. Don’t forget to bring your walking shoes!
- Attending those Black Friday sales? Park in the farthest spots away from the stores. In many cases on Black Friday, this WON’T be a problem.
- Pick active family games like flag football, Twister or even Charades to get you moving. The laughter alone is good for your metabolism and your immune system.
There are a slew of options to help you win the war against crazy-high caloric foods, and being accountable to someone can also help. If you don’t know where to start, Lite & Smart Dimensions Weight Loss has a team of professionals who want you to succeed during the holidays and well beyond. If you or someone you know needs help with permanent weight loss, take a look at our options. From medically-supervised weight-loss programs to surgery, all plans are carefully managed by experienced physicians that lead the way in innovative, life-changing permanent weight-loss solutions.
Since Thanksgiving’s inception, the intent of the holiday was to be thankful for the preceding year and to celebrate harvest. Why not give your friends and family the best gift you can give them – a HEALTHIER YOU to celebrate Thanksgiving traditions with them for many years to come.