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Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

The holiday season is almost upon us, and your mouth is probably already watering in gleeful anticipation of a warm, home-cooked Thanksgiving meal. Let’s face it; no one likes to be bothered with counting calories on Thanksgiving Day. Ignorance may seem like bliss when you’re helping yourself to another scoop of green bean casserole or a second slice of pumpkin pie. But with a typical Thanksgiving meal averaging out to a whopping 4,000 calories, you’re looking at some serious cardio to burn off the holiday weight gain. In fact, the price of an indulgent Turkey Day dinner amounts to seven hours of running, 10 hours of weight lifting, or 20 hours of yoga (Source: That's Fit). Yikes!

If you’re looking to enjoy a cornucopia of comfort food without packing on excess pounds, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many ways to lighten up Thanksgiving dinner while still keeping it tasty. Here are a few helpful hints:

Turkey

What’s Thanksgiving without the turkey? Luckily, this traditional holiday bird is a nutritious lean protein that’s low in saturated fat and safe for your plate. And you don’t have to fret over the ever-popular method of deep frying either. A four ounce serving of roasted turkey has 241 calories and 12 grams of fat, while the same size serving of deep fried turkey has 253 calories and 14 grams of fat (Source: Turkeyfrying.net). The majority of fat lies within the skin, so eating your turkey skinless is an easy way to shave off some calories.

Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes have gotten a bad rap for their high carbohydrate content, but potatoes provide a wealth of nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, iron, and B6. For an added dose of fiber, leave the skins on (Source: Potatogoodness.com). You can avoid excess calories by eliminating the butter and gravy. Try seasoning your potatoes with some fresh herbs and cracked pepper instead. Delicious!

Green Beans

Green bean casserole may be a holiday favorite, but the cream of mushroom soup and crunchy fried onions make this side dish a diet don’t. Just one serving contains 167 calories, 9 grams of fat and 20 percent of your daily recommended amount of sodium (Source: MyFitnessPal.com). Try this recipe for herbed green beans instead. With just 45 calories per ¾ cup serving, you’ll enjoy the flavor without the regret.

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p>Stuffing

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p> Warm, savory and delicious, stuffing ranks among one of the best Thanksgiving comfort foods. Unfortunately, its porous texture soaks up fat drippings inside the turkey, resulting in excess calories. For a healthier alternative, choose whole wheat stuffing. Cook it on the stove instead of in the bird, and you’ll cut the calories in half!

Dessert

Thanksgiving dinner without the pumpkin pie is practically un-American! But with 323 calories and 13 grams of fat in one slice, this decadent dessert comes at a price. For a healthier alternative, try fitness guru Harley Pasternak’s recipe for Healthy Pumpkin Pie and cut calories without sacrificing taste.