it’s that time of year again when our mouths water for holiday favorites. we have dreamed of roast turkey sandwiches laden with leftover stuffing and cranberry sauce and sneaking to the fridge at night for a final bite of pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream. Perhaps we indulged our inner child by eating all of the candied pecans off of the yam casserole. fats and sugars take center stage during this winter season of festivities, but that doesn’t have to be the tradition. our classic foods can be just as delicious with a few healthy tweaks!
you may have noticed on your thanksgiving table the two culprits of holiday weight gain, fat and sugar. unfortunately, these are both individual nutrients and converted nutrients when high-glycemic, starchy grains, fruits or vegetables are processed in our bodies. eating well is a full-spectrum approach, so when you begin to look at all the amazing holiday foods, search for substitutions to your seasonal faves with some a little bit of preparation!
we imagine every meat eater had turkey for thanksgiving, right? luckily for us, this fowl makes for a healthy meal as long as you didn’t deep fry it! enjoy your leftovers, but stick to the white meat and don’t eat the skin.
yams and sweet potatoes made their debut, which is great, unless they had sugary toppings and added fat. next time, boil and mash your orange spuds with a little garlic, salt and pepper instead. they are equally delicious, stand in for the buttery, mashed potatoes and still taste great with a little gravy.
as for that gravy, hopefully you skipped the flour and milk. at your next dinner, make a broth gravy instead from the turkey drippings, fresh herbs and a little cornstarch or yarrow root to thicken it.
when it comes to veggies, always add them in spades. they don’t need oil, butter, creams or sauces. with the plethora of warm herbs, spices and alliums to choose from, vegetables are flavorful enough roasted or steamed. try to leave them a bit crisp so they retain their nutrients and choose cruciferous and colorful varieties. use starches and sugars like corn, peas, potatoes, beets and carrots in moderation.
dessert by definition is unhealthy, but for your next winter pie, try something a bit on the savory side! make a high protein, low-sugar pie crust from nuts and seeds or iwon organics salt or cinnamon flavored crushed protein chips. pumpkin itself is not bad. it can be even better if you use half pumpkin and half butternut squash. as a sweetener, try all-natural stevia or organic agave. be liberal with your spices and add in cardamom or star anise for some natural sweetness. for a dollop of cream, whip up a cashew cream with vanilla and cinnamon. yum!
if you’re not in control of the next feast, there are a few things you can do to keep your heart and digestive system happy and healthy this year.
- never go to a dinner hungry! eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch and opt for a high protein snack before you go. protein provides the most satiety out of all the macronutrients and will help you curb your appetite.
- drink lots of water! the benefits of water are vast but for our purposes here, it will help us stay full and flush out all of the fats and toxins that we did indulge in. the extra hydration doesn’t hurt either.
- it may sound simple but monitor portion sizes. we tend to overindulge when we are presented with many food options and sit for a long time socializing around the dinner table. keep your servings small, stop when you are full and remove your plate when you’re done. this will keep you from nibbling while still at the table. you can rejoin with your trusted glass of water and sip away as others continue to talk and eat.
- lastly, when dinner is done, do not sit or lay down. take a walk, busy yourself cleaning up, just keep moving to aid your digestive system in processing the extra calories.
take a look at how your thanksgiving meal made you feel, how much you ate and if there is any eater’s remorse. if so, don’t fret. we have another six weeks of dinners and celebrations. armed with these food facts and meal tips, you can finish out the season healthy and strong!