This week's question… Should I indulge on Thanksgiving?
People often go one way or another on Thanksgiving: INDULGE or DEPRIVE. The first leads to feeling like the stuffed turkey you just ate and the second leaves you feeling flat out like a big buzz kill. So what's a good American to do? We all want to take part in our nation's favorite holiday. I am a dietitian, so I am certainly not going to suggest stuffing yourself like a turkey but I am hardly the type to suggest all-out deprivation either. So, let's indulge – the healthy way! A little indulging can actually help you consume less calories overall, sneak in some powerful nutrients and leave you feeling ready to strut your stuff through the holiday season. Indulge this way, this Thanksgiving:
- Many of us try not to spoil our appetites before the Thanksgiving meal by staying away from the appetizer tray, but I dare you to do the opposite! Ruin your appetite – and don't go into the meal ravenous.
- Indulge in cheese. 2 cubes of the parmesan before dinner can be just what you need to "cut" your hunger. When you finally sit down for that meal, you'll notice everyone else going for seconds before you have come close to finishing your plate.
- If you are trying to watch your waistline you may either go for dry white meat turkey or you may say "it's Thanksgiving I am going for it" and dive into dark meat, skin and gravy.
- I say go for gravy – but add it to white meat. Instead of reaching for that giant turkey leg of dark meat, which is loaded with extra fat from the skin, take a lean serving of white breast meat, and pour a little gravy over it. The portion of gravy will make your white meat seem rich and decadent. The average tablespoon of gravy can have anywhere from 20-120 calories per tablespoon. If you stick to that one tablespoon, you will get the satisfaction of your warm, gooey gravy while saving calories from going completely overboard with the dark meat and skin…and you definitely won't feel like you are being punished at the table.
Stuff yourself properly
- Stuffing is known to be a carb and butter catastrophe. But, how often is stuffing served in your home? IF this is your favorite starchy side, go for it. But, remember try to choose ONE starchy side that you LOVE – and have in portion control – half a cup to 1 cup. Don't think about not having the mash and the sweet potatoes, think about having the stuffing. You can eat your Grandmother's famous recipe! The average half cup serving of stuffing has anywhere from 180 to 280 calories. The difference lies in whether or not you choose to have sausage in your stuffing. If you want to make that indulgence even healthier ditch the sausage and get your protein-fix from the turkey. Only 50 percent of Americans stuff their Turkeys with stuffing, so you're not in the minority if you avoid it altogether. Me? I prefer sweet potato anything!
Say "hello" not "bye-bye" to Pie
- When it comes to navigating the dessert table, you're more than likely to be drawn to pie, after pie, after pie, after pie. Allow yourself to indulge in a little pie, just make the right pie choice.
- Pumpkin, itself, is a nutrition powerhouse! 1 cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin has 49 calories, is high in potassium, loaded with vitamin A and has about 3 grams of fiber. But what about in pie form? It is still a winner. 1/8th of a 9 inch pie slice of pumpkin pie has 340 calories, while the same size of pecan pie has 503 calories. Fun fact? Pumpkin pie was first introduced to the holiday table at the pilgrim's second Thanksgiving. If you want to take this traditional treat up a notch try these Pumpkin Pie Bites with a flaxseed and wheat germ crust. YUM!
You booze, you gain? Not necessarily...
- People often associate alcohol with overindulging in alcohol itself and food, especially at a holiday meal with friends and family. That's because we, Americans, tend to overdo it. The truth is that there are benefits associated with alcohol, such as reduced risk of heart disease, a decreased risk of diabetes, and reduced risk of dementia. But that's not permission to get WASTED with Uncle Frank! Instead, skip the cocktails but treat yourself to that one glass of red wine (125 calories per 5 fl oz) with dinner and enjoy every last sip. This way you may eat less too – when you go into the meal a little buzzed you usually gobble up more. So, reap the benefits of alcohol and feel like you've indulged without being hungover the next day.
-- Keri Glassman & Terri MacLeod
Copyright 2012 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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