It’s almost Turkey Time, and you might be dreading the calories you know you’ll consume that day (and in the weeks following… leftovers anyone?). However, despite the widespread consensus that Thanksgiving is a lost cause when it comes to nutrition, we don’t think that a healthy mindset needs to be thrown out the window. Here are a few tips to cooking a Thanksgiving meal that your body will be thanking you for:
Balance your meal. The Food Bank’s Nutrition Education team has put together a chart of Thanksgiving suggestions based off the standard MyPlate model being taught in schools. Here’s what they advise:
Vegetables (2 cups per day). For Thanksgiving dinner, this could be green beans, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, etc.
Fruits (1.5 cups per day): Holiday dishes to satisfy this could be fruit salad, baked apples and of course, cranberry sauce.
Grains (6 ounces per day): A classic helping of stuffing will meet this requirement, but if you’re not a fan, try whole wheat rolls instead.
Dairy (3 cups per day): This could take the form of macaroni and cheese, and dare we say, a small serving of ice cream post-meal?
Protein (5 ounces per day): Turkey (of course!), and for any vegetarians on your guest list, swap meat for a side of beans.
Watch your portion sizes. Thanksgiving isn’t an eating contest, and it will come again next year, so you don’t need to eat a lifetime’s supply of turkey in one afternoon. The Huffington Post gives some great visual references to keep in mind when choosing portion sizes.
Stick to fresh ingredients as much as possible. Fresh ingredients rather than heavily processed foods retain more nutrients.
Focus on the people, not the food. Remember why you’re celebrating. Keep your focus on who’s around you rather than what’s on your plate.
Get moving. Consider a post-meal walk – walking 100 steps after dinner improves digestion, burns calories, and helps control blood sugar levels. Or how about a pre-meal run?The Food Bank’s Turkey Trot is taking place at 8:30am on Thanksgiving Day, rain or shine. Burn those calories before you eat them!
If you feel like something is missing from this list… then, well, you’re right. We all know it isn’t a real Thanksgiving feast without a good dessert. We like this site’s suggestions of incorporating seasonal fruit into a concoction that’s still sweet and satisfying.
What recipes or tips have you discovered that work well for you or your family? Share them with us in the comments below. For more information about the Food Bank and the special programs they run during the holiday season, please visit www.slofoodbank.org.