With Thanksgiving approaching, many people are looking forward to enjoying the foods typically served on the holiday, even if they won’t be able to have large extended family gatherings this year. HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals encourage people to enjoy their holiday meal, but also make healthy choices.
“One of the most enjoyable things about the holidays is the delicious food we get to eat during celebrations, and sometimes we only eat those foods once a year, so it’s easy to overindulge,” said Susan Kasik-Miller, a registered dietitian with HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals.
“If there are certain foods you can’t imagine doing without, the key is portion control – try having just a small sampling rather than filling your plate,” she said. “For the rest of your meal courses, choosing health swaps can make a difference between maintaining and gaining a few pounds.”
HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals recommend the following 6 healthy food swaps that will allow you to indulge without adding high fat and high calories:
Swap dips made with sour cream and mayo with dips made from low-fat yogurt. Low-fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt will give you the same great taste with less calories. As a comparison, an ounce of sour cream has about 60 calories, while an ounce of nonfat plain Greek yogurt has only 15-20 calories.
Swap sweetened sweet potatoes with roasted sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet without adding extra sugar and thus extra calories. Roasting them brushed with a little canola or olive oil brings out their natural sweetness.
Swap dark meat turkey for white meat. Not all turkey parts are created equal. The dark meat on a turkey (legs and thighs) has about twice the fat of turkey breast and wings (white meat) and about 40% more calories.
Swap traditional gravy with low-fat gravy. You can make a tasty healthier gravy with fat-free turkey broth, flour and seasonings to taste. If you still want to use the turkey drippings from the roasting pan, remove the fat first with a fat-separator cup or by placing the drippings in the freezer for 10-15 minutes and then skimming off the fat on top.
Swap the green bean casserole with fresh green beans. Try steaming fresh green beans and sprinkling them with slivered almonds to save on calories. Build a balanced plate by filling half the plate with vegetables and eating your vegetables first to fill up on these lower calorie foods so you’ll be less likely to eat the higher calorie ones.
Swap pecan pie with pumpkin pie. Even with a dollop of whipped cream on your pumpkin pie, you’ll cut calories and sugar by at least a third by choosing pumpkin pie over pecan pie. A slice of pumpkin pie has about 300 calories while a slice of pecan pie has about 500 calories. You can also save calories on any pie by not eating the crust as that is where most of the fat resides.
Besides these healthy swaps, it is also helpful to eat a light, healthy breakfast so you don’t overindulge during Thanksgiving dinner.
It is also important to work in some physical activity to help boost your metabolism, and drink plenty of water before the meal to keep your stomach full and after the meal to promote healthy digestion.
For more healthy eating tips for the holidays, visit cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/holidays-healthy-eating.