Gaining weight on Thanksgiving seems like part of the tradition, so break it. This Thanksgiving, keep the time-honored menu of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie and lose the customary couple of pounds from creeping on. Follow these seven steps and you’ll give thanks when you see the number on the scale.
Make Small Menu Changes
For most holiday chefs, indulging in salty, full-fat, and high-calorie ingredients like butter and heavy whipping cream is part of the Thanksgiving routine. This year, try swapping some lighter ingredients for their heavier counterparts. Stock your fridge and pantry with these healthier alternatives to avoid the Thanksgiving weight gain:
- Low-fat, low-sodium condensed soup
- Fat-free, low-sodium broths
- Smart Balance whipped, low-sodium buttery spread
- Low-fat whipped cream
- 1% milk
Adjust Recipe Ratios
Not only can using low-fat cream of mushroom soup instead of the full-fat version in your green-bean casserole reduce calorie intake, but adjusting ratios in your recipes can help you avoid Thanksgiving weight gain, too. Here are suggestions to lower the sodium, fat, and calories in some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes:
- For light, creamy mashed potatoes, replace ½ the milk or cream with fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth.
- For super-moist stuffing without all the fat, replace ½ (or all) the melted butter with fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth.
- For tangy cranberry sauce without all the calories, reduce the sugar to ¼ cup and replace ½ the water with orange juice.
- For a lower calorie version of Libby’s Pumpkin Pie, cut back the sugar from ¾ cup to ½ cup.
Fill-up Only on Favorites
Look at Thanksgiving dinner as an opportunity to indulge, in moderation, in your favorite dishes. Instead of loading your plate with everything from the buffet line, only choose once-a-year goodies. By avoiding the foods you can eat any old time and only choosing your favorites, you will save calories and stave off Thanksgiving weight gain.
Use Portion Control
An easy way to monitor your calories on Thanksgiving and avoid weight gain is to watch your portions. Turkey is a great protein, but a serving size is about as large as your fist. Having a slice of pie? Make it a small one and savor it. Food is a big part of Thanksgiving, but remember that is doesn’t take much to feel satisfied. Overeating is a sure-fire way to feel miserable and pack on the pounds.
Get Moving to Get Losing
Other than food, football seems to top the list of reasons why people love Thanksgiving. So, try getting the family outside for a game of your own. Sitting on the couch watching the pros is great, but it won’t help you avoid gaining weight. A game of football or even a walk around the block can jump-start your metabolism and help you burn off the pecan pie before you ever eat it.
All good chefs must taste their food. But, too many tastes can lead to gaining weight. If you need to check the gravy, don’t test a whole spoonful. Dip the spoon in the gravy and lick the back. Any time you are tempted to taste a whole spoonful or a forkful, remember those nibbles add up. Likewise, snacking on the food you are preparing can lead weight gain. Keep cut, raw veggies on the counter for sensible snacking.
Lose the Leftovers
It is agreed that Thanksgiving leftovers trump all others, but eating the Thanksgiving meal several times in one week is dangerous. To avoid gaining weight, send your guests home with some of their favorites. Do you have calorie conscious guests who refuse your offer? Then throw away the leftovers before they even end up in Tupperware. Even though we try to not throw away food at all costs, you cannot jeopardize your health with a fridge full of Thanksgiving leftovers.
Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without all the delicious food. Just remember smart substitutions and deliberate decisions can go a long way in preventing Thanksgiving weight gain.