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Stuff the Bird, Not Yourself | Tips for Feasting Well on Turkey Day

Stuff the Bird, Not Yourself | Tips for Feasting Well on Turkey Day

Do you love the feeling of being too full to stand up and too tired to keep your eyes open after Thanksgiving dinner? If so, this article is not for you. If you prefer feeling comfortable, don’t be a turkey; use the following suggestions to help you do less of the gobble and make sure the bird is the only thing getting stuffed.

Salad is a great first course. The focus of a healthy salad is vegetables—accents such as cheese, croutons, bacon bits, nuts, seeds, olives, and dressing should be sprinkled rather than poured on top. To use less dressing while maximizing flavor, keep dressing on the side and dip your fork in it before each bite. Taking large servings of salad and other vegetables as well as a tall glass of water will help to fill your stomach so you can be satisfied with less of the meats, starches, casseroles, and desserts. Remember, fresh and frozen veggies aren’t loaded with sodium like canned vegetables, and often taste fresher too.

Then it’s on to the main event. Trimming calories from your family’s favorites is a smart way to eat what you love without sacrificing taste.

Interested in cutting some fat? Opt for light turkey meat instead of dark meat to forgo six grams of fat from a four-ounce serving. Skim the top layer of fat off of your drippings before making them into gravy; all that solid stuff is saturated fat. Use 1% or 0% plain yogurt for dishes that call for butter, sour cream, cream soup, or cream cheese. In baked goods, replace half of the oil or buttercup for a cup with applesauce, mashed bananas, or pumpkin puree (my favorite).

How about cutting carbs? You can reduce the amount of sugar in dessert recipes by ½ to ⅓ without anyone noticing, or use a granulated sugar substitute in place of half the sugar. To boost fiber in baked goods, replace half of the flour with 100% whole wheat flour. Try mashing steamed cauliflower instead of potatoes to get one-quarter of the calories and quadruple the antioxidants vitamin C and folate. Instead of topping your sweet potatoes with marshmallows, you can roast sweet potato wedges to enhance their sweetness. If you prefer them mashed, mix in a little orange or lemon juice and cayenne pepper to add a tangy kick without the refined sugar. For healthier stuffing, use 100% whole wheat bread and emphasize veggies like mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery, and spinach.

The above suggestions are tasty ways to improve the health of your holiday meal, but you can still have too much of a good thing! To keep yourself from overeating, leave the table when you’ve finished and move to a food-free room. Tell everyone to bring storage containers and box the food up after everyone has finished eating. And remember, the more food you save, the less you have to cook next week.

What can you do to leave the table feeling good this Turkey Day? Get together with a supportive friend or family member and make a plan that everyone can be thankful for.

Learn how our team of registered dietitians can help you live a healthier lifestyle.