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How to have a Well Powered Thanksgiving!


Most holidays are celebrated with food but Thanksgiving definitely takes the cake as the most food-centric holiday. We gather around a table with our friends and family and enjoy a delicious meal filled with a great variety of food, much of which can be healthy! The greatest obstacles with Thanksgiving is the abundance of food and leftovers. We are going to share some tips for how to stay focused on your goals and enjoy Thanksgiving this year!

1. Fill your plate with mostly protein and veggies

The main event of your Thanksgiving dinner is a healthy, lean protein so take advantage and get plenty of it! There isn’t a huge calorie difference between the white and dark meats so go for whichever you prefer. Thanksgiving is also a time to highlight the delicious autumn vegetables! As we encourage eating an abundance of vegetables in our program, you should take full advantage of the variety of vegetables at your meal and fill your plate with them. But beware! This tends to be a time for casseroles, like green bean casserole, and veggies cooked with a lot of added ingredients. Choose the ones with minimal ingredients, like steamed or roasted.

2. Be mindful of portions with starchy sides

Carbohydrates are abundant at the Thanksgiving table! The obvious carb is stuffing, which is basically dressed up bread. Starchy vegetables, like butternut squash and sweet potatoes, also tend to be popular at this time. These are very nutritious but remember they are high in carbohydrates! So be mindful of portion sizes and try to stick to ½ cup (half of a baseball) or less. Also be cautious of added sugar, like in the popular marshmallow-covered sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce.

3. Pick a few of your favorite dishes

Everyone usually has a few dishes they look forward to at the holidays. Pick 3 of your favorite things and have small servings of each. Otherwise, you’ll just be thinking about and staring at them all day!

4. Bring a dish!

If you aren't hosting Thanksgiving, then offer to bring a side dish. Make it something you will feel comfortable and happy eating! Try out one of our healthy substitutes, like mashed cauliflower (without the toppings).

5. Don’t treat dessert as a second meal!

There may be another meal’s worth of dessert at the table, but that doesn’t mean you should fill another plate with sweets! Pick the most appetizing dessert, have one serving, and enjoy it!

6. Walk away from the table

When you feel like you are comfortably full, put the fork down and either clear your plate from the table or walk into another room. Going for a 20 minute walk after you finish eating will take your thoughts away from food, allow the satiety signals to travel to your brain, and burn some calories! Whatever you do, avoid sitting around the table and picking at the plates of leftovers!

7. Prepare in the morning

Don’t starve yourself for the main meal. Eat something in the morning! This will help keep your fat and sugar cravings at bay and will prevent you from being extremely hungry by the time you get to the meal. Workout in the morning! This will give you some buffer in your calorie budget.

8. Don’t let Thanksgiving last all week.

Leftovers are often more dangerous than Thanksgiving day! Don’t let the leftovers linger. If you’re hosting, give your guests a to-go bag, at least of the less healthy stuff. You can keep the turkey and any healthy veggies, but pass off the dessert and starchy sides!

Calorie and Carb Counts of Thanksgiving Dishes

Turkey (4oz): 175 cals for light meat and 200 cals for dark; 0g net carbs for both

Roasted Brussel Sprouts (1/2 cup): 100 cals; 4g net carbs

Green Bean Casserole (1/2 cup): 150 cals; 11g net carbs

Cranberry Sauce (1/4 cup): 110 cals; 24g net carbs

Mashed Potatoes (1/2 cup): 120 cals; 15g net carbs

Stuffing (1/2 cup): 175 cals; 20g net carbs

Sweet Potato Casserole (1/2 cup): 230 cals; 35g net carbs

Pumpkin Pie (1/8th pie): 265 cals; 36g net carbs

There you have it! Follow these tips and you will be on your way to having Well Powered Thanksgiving!

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

330 Brookline Ave

Boston, MA 02215

wellpowered@bidmc.harvard.edu

Tel: 617-735-2518

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