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Thanksgiving has long been regarded as a time for families and loved ones to get together. There are few holidays with as many food-based traditions so deeply instilled as those on turkey day. People cook special dishes using age-old recipes that have been handed down for generations. People contribute specific dishes to the meal as they arrive. Leftovers are eaten for days afterward and there are entire cooking shows and books dedicated solely to innovative leftover recipes. On the downside, this is usually not the type of holiday associated with staying healthy. Many people see this day as the ultimate cheat day, casting stones against the wind and vowing to get back on the wagon in the days to come. The good news is that in today’s world, there are ways to save yourself the inevitable bad news from the scale.

Most Thanksgiving recipes today use the same old standby ingredients because that’s the way they’ve always been made. There were no options 50 years ago for people who were trying to attempt a low-fat or low-carb regimen. Nowadays, we have delicious substitutions that are used to create dishes that are just as tasty as the ones that inspired them. A popular trend in baking is to substitute butter with applesauce or to use low-fat milk instead of heavy cream. In cooking, butter can be replaced by heart-healthy olive oil or cooking sprays. Spices and herbs can go a long way instead of just using salt. There are also plenty of side dishes that incorporate vegetables that can be grilled, baked, or steamed, in lieu of frying. 

Portion control is another way to stay healthy. One of the reasons people eat to excess at this time of year is because casting limits aside and feeling overstuffed feels like part of the tradition. Thanksgiving is an especially tough meal to navigate, often because there are so many choices of dishes and it’s tempting to want a little of everything all at once on your plate. A good mindfulness technique might be to just take small quantities of everything at first, while also reminding yourself that you can always return for more if you really want it. Savor each bite and take your time. This is a day of thanks so spend time mindfully eating with thoughts of gratitude for your meal. Another way to keep portions in check is to hydrate frequently with water throughout the meal. This will help you to feel fuller faster.