It’s that time of year again – the time to think Thanksgiving! This year, while pondering what new healthy tips and recipes to share with all of you, it struck me that the best part of Thanksgiving is not what we eat, but who we eat it with. Thanksgiving is day to celebrate the love of friends and family, and to count our blessings for all the wonderful things in our lives.
To help you celebrate the holiday, and the delicious food, in a way that will leave everyone happy and healthy, I updated how to create “The Healthy Holiday Meal,” with even more tips, tricks, and brand new recipes.
The fact is that for many of us, the tradition of overindulging at Thanksgiving is as traditional as the meal itself! A typical Thanksgiving dinner is estimated to contain anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 calories, depending on what (and how much), fills your plate. Of course it’s no wonder when creamy mashed potatoes covered in gravy, sweetened yams, butter laden stuffing, sugary cranberry sauce and rich desserts are the dishes of many a family feast.
The good news is that holiday meals can leave you both happy and healthy. Below you will find plenty of tips and tricks to ensure your family you can enjoy both good food and good health while giving thanks this year.
They say when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. A big family meal is no exception:
- Don’t plan on “saving” all your calories or carbs for dinner. Heading to the table ravished encourages overeating. To curb hunger and keep blood sugar stable, eat a healthy breakfast, and a sensible lunch.
- Try work a family activity into your day – watching the big game is great, but getting outdoors with some activity is even better. A family bike ride, walk or your own family flag football game can be relished as much as a good dish.
- If you need to control your blood sugar, look over all your choices and plan out how you will “spend your carb budget” before you fill your plate. (Most carbohydrate budgets will allow an average of 45-60 grams for your meal).
- Consider saving your carbs for holiday “must-haves.” Forgo the usual rolls or mashed potatoes for once a year specialties like my Apple Crumble Pie (see below)! Keep portions of starchier foods small.
- While it can be tempting, don’t waste calories or carbs on sugary beverages.
Eliminate excess carbohydrates and fat, but keep the flavor.
- Add plenty of non-starchy vegetables to the menu. Artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and carrots are great holiday vegetable fair. If you are a guest, offer to bring a large green salad, a healthy side dish, or tray of veggies as your contribution.
- Add extra vegetables to stuffing, rice or other dense carbohydrate dishes to lighten carbs. Rutabaga, turnips, and steamed, well drained cauliflower can be added to potatoes to creatively curb the carbs and add flavor.
- Use lower fat dairy products, cheeses and prepared soups in your traditional recipes. Substitute broth for some of the butter in mashed potatoes and stuffing.
- Use sugar substitutes, or a combination of sugar and sugar substitutes, for sweetening sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pies.
Healthy Holiday Recipes
Happy & health thanksgiving to you and your family,
Marlene Koch – Author of the new best selling diabetes-friendly cookbook, Eat What You Love
NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.
Marlene graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in nutrition from U.C.L.A. in 1986 and is one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the American Dietetic Association. Combining her love of food with her educational foundation, she has held such positions as Hospital Foodservice Director, Nutrition Professor, Cooking Instructor for the Columbus State Culinary Academy and as a national nutrition educator to chefs for the American Culinary Federation. Her passion for teaching others how to make healthy food taste delicious also extend to her private nutrition practice specializing in weight loss, diabetes, and wellness.
Marlene loves to teach (and to eat!); her energetic and upbeat style has made her a popular food and nutrition speaker for organizations such as the American Diabetes and American Heart Associations and sought after for television and radio appearances which have included affiliates for ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and Shaw TV (Vancouver) and radio stations nationwide.