Health Calls: Local News
Healthy Thanksgiving options
By Kimberly Tirapelle, MS, RD
Story Updated: Nov 20, 2009
The holiday season is upon us! Over the next 6 weeks, Americans will spend a lot of quality family time together, share traditional holiday meals, and also likely gain some weight. But how much weight, on average is truly gained over the holidays? According to the National Institutes of Health, the average American gains about a pound during the six-week winter holiday period. Another study of 200 people, reported in the March 2000 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found the following:
· Holiday weight gained during the six-week period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day accounted for most of a person’s total weight gain over a year’s time.
· The more overweight the study subjects were at the beginning of the holiday season, the more likely they were to gain at least five pounds or more over the holidays.
Over the years, this contributes to the significant weight gain of an adult. But, the holidays are NOT the time to go on a diet to lose weight or cut out all the yummy traditional holiday meals. Instead, focus on a few healthy tips that will help you avoid weight gain and you will still be able to enjoy those delicious holiday foods.
1. Eat a light, healthy snack such as fresh fruit, veggies or a water-based soup prior to your Thanksgiving meal to help curb your appetite.
2. Downsize your portions. Enjoy a smaller amount of all of your favorite holiday dishes.
3. Use smaller plates for your meal to help reduce the portions.
4. Don’t drink your calories. Reduce your intake of alcoholic beverages as these can stimulate your appetite. Instead sip on calorie free beverages such as sparkling water or water spruced up with a lemon or orange.
5. Take a walk either before or after your holiday meal to use some of those calories you will be enjoying.
6. Substitute lower fat and calorie ingredients in your recipes such as:
· Use non-fat yogurt or cottage cheese in your dips or sauces
· Replace oil, butter or shortening with apple sauce (1:1) in your recipes
· Try a sugar substitute such as Splenda instead of sugar in your desserts or beverages
· Cook your stuffing outside of the turkey instead of inside where it soaks up the fat
· Roast your turkey on a rack so that the fat drips away from it
· Use fat-free buttermilk in your mashed potatoes
· Steam your vegetables and add fresh herbs and/or fresh fruit juices such as lemon to give them more flavor
· Use light or fat free whipped topping
Here are some sample comparisons of ways you can reduce your intake on Thanksgiving:
1. Appetizer of 3 oz cheese with 2 oz summer sausage with 5 crackers= 620 calories vs. 4 oz fresh shrimp with 2 oz cocktail sauce and 1 cup raw vegetables with 2 Tbsp low-fat ranch dip = 260 calories
2. 6 oz of white/dark meat turkey with skin = 350 calories vs. 6 oz roasted turkey breast, no skin white meat= 230 calories
3. 4 oz Sweet potato casserole (canned sweet potatoes with butter, walnuts, and marshmallows) = 390 calories vs. 4 oz fresh mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon and 1 Tbsp light margarine= 150 calories
4. ¼ cup Jellied Cranberry sauce = 110 calories vs. 1 cup baked fresh cranberries mixed with apples and pears and topped with brown sugar = 60 calories
6. 3 oz slice pecan pie = 350 calories vs. 3 oz slice pumpkin pie = 215 calories