Kenmore Mercy Hospital Dietitian Shares Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving

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November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we may already be preparing our stomachs for the big feast. But do you know how many calories you are potentially consuming? Or how long it would take to burn them off?

According to Ali-Sayeed Naheed Ali-Sayeed, clinical nutrition manager with Kenmore Mercy Hospital, shares tips on how to trim the fat while still enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

According to Ali-Sayeed Americans will consume more than 1,600 calories in a in a typical Thanksgiving meal, and that’s only if they the standard serving sizes of traditional foods.

“During Thanksgiving, it's easy to go overboard with the calories and consumption. Most people struggle with portion control,” said Ali-Sayeed.  “But eating healthfully on Thanksgiving doesn't mean you have to forgo all your favorite foods.”

Here are five ways Ali-Sayeed recommends you can avoid overdoing it on one of the greatest food days of the year – while still leaving room for dessert.

  1. Stick to healthy portions. Use one plate and keep your portions small. Fill up half your plate with vegetable, fruit, and whole grains, a quarter of it with potatoes, and a quarter with meat. The more colorful your plate the better.
  2. Be mindful of appetizers and drinks. Calories add up quickly before the main meal. Enjoy one appetizer and move on. You can also use raw veggies for dips instead of higher calorie crackers and crostini. Choose water, flavored seltzers or club soda instead of sugary beverages like apple cider or alcohol, which add empty calories.
  3. Don’t skip meals and snacks the day of Thanksgiving. “Saving up” calories for the big meal will only leave you hungry and lead to overeating. The idea is to stay satisfied throughout the day to keep from overindulging. Eat a sensible breakfast with an emphasis on fiber and protein. Depending on what time you eat the main meal, you may want to incorporate a light lunch or a small snack three to four hours after breakfast. Eat at a slow place and listen to your body’s cues. Stop eating before you are feeling “stuffed.”
  4. Substitute healthy ingredients for unhealthy ones. Consider using lower sodium chicken broth or herbs to perk up the flavor instead of using butter. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your stuffing recipe. Think mushrooms, onions, shallots, bell peppers and chopped apples or pears. Try whole wheat bread and incorporate whole grains such as barley and quinoa. For dessert, use whole wheat for pie crust and substitute low fat or skim milk for evaporated milk. Replace ice cream with frozen yogurt.
  5. Walk and talk. Round up family or friends for a leisurely walk either before or after dinner to get your metabolism going. If you are a Black Friday shopper, park your car farther away to get a longer walk. Keep in mind, an average person would have to run for 30 minutes or walk for at least an hour to burn off 1 slice of pumpkin pie without whipped cream.

The tips described above will help dial back the unhealthy elements and showcase the wonderful natural tastes of meats, fruits and vegetables. Your guests will appreciate it and your stomach will thank you.