Healthy Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

"Eating less calories and increasing exercise is the winning recipe to prevent weight gain during the holiday season."

My Alcorn family, the Thanksgiving holiday is swiftly approaching. Hoorah!!!!!

The question is, how do we balance our calories and exercise for optimum health? According to the Calorie Control Council, an association that represents the low and reduced-calorie food industry, the average American may consume 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day. It is fine to consume such amounts of calories if you are sumo wrestlers or a highly active athlete. In the absence of these examples, it is very doable to enjoy a guilt-free, healthy holiday by following these tips:

  1. Eat a balanced, high protein breakfast every day. Research has shown that skipping breakfast make us eat more throughout the day which piles up calories and brings about obesity. A fulfilling breakfast can be two scrambled eggs with your favorite vegetables and a piece of toast, half a cup of cottage cheese and fruit, or plain Greek yogurt with oatmeal.
  2. Indulge in lower calorie appetizers such as fresh fruits and vegetables, boiled shrimp with salsa cocktail or deviled eggs. Nuts are great but we only need a handful, when coated with chocolate less is better. A way to make sure that your brand of low calorie appetizer is available at the party is to offer to bring fresh fruit and a yogurt dip or low sodium ham or turkey wrapped in whole grain flat bread with lettuce.
  3. As you scout and police the food table, constantly remind yourself that the food on the table is not going to disappear. Chew slowly to savor the taste of the food, and enjoy the company. Rule of thumb is to try to take at least 15 to 20 minutes to finish the food on your plate. Chances are, you will not be hungry for a second helping after that time, but if you are, the food will still be there.

Be mindful that condiments such as cranberry sauce, gravy, butter, whipped cream, coffee creamer, and creamy salad dressings can add hidden calories. Be vigilant to not sabotage your efforts to reduce calories.

Your best friendly advice is portion control.

4.Baking substitutions:

Instead of sugar, substitute with non-fat yogurt or cinnamon flavored no sugar added applesauce for oil in baked goods. Also, try a lower-calorie sugar substitute such as: monk fruit in the raw, Stevia in the raw, Good and Sweet, or Splenda.

Instead of using all white flour, try half white and half whole-wheat flour or whole grain flour.

Instead of adding chocolate chips or candies, use dried fruit like cranberries or chopped dried apricot.

Substitute sugar or butter as flavor enhancer with extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint.

Since oil adds satiety and great mouth feel to our food, use olive, canola, or peanut oil instead of butter.

Use whole-grain breads and pastas instead of white.

Add vegetable and fruits to most of your recipes – mashed banana to pancake mix or grated yellow or green squash to cornbread/turkey dressing.

Try baked and grilled vegetables drizzled slightly with olive oil, instead of deep frying.

Substitute whole milk or heavy cream with low-fat or fat-free skim milk, rice milk, or almond milk.

Use chicken stock, fat-free yogurt, light cream cheese, and low-fat milk in place of high-fat ingredients.

Take time to read food labels and buy the ones with the lowest sodium content, highest amount of fiber, and lowest amount of cholesterol.

  1. Beverage substitutions:

Instead of heavy cream or whole milk in dairy based drinks, try low-fat skim milk, almond milk, rice milk or soy milk. (For thyroid patients, consult with your physician about soy milk.)

To warm the heart in cold weather and have an inviting aroma all over the house, heat unsweetened apple cider with lemon wedges, orange wedges, whole glove spice, a cinnamon stick, and cranberry juice.

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate and focus on our relationships with family and friends, not foods and how much we can eat. The foods we eat should serve as nourishment for the body and not cause health burdens.

My Alcorn family, be each other’s keeper. Serve as a shining light to motivate loved ones to eat right and be happy. Happy Holidays!!!!

Healthy eating tips will be provided every first Thursday of the month by Edith Ezekwe, MS, RD, LD, MT (ASCP), instructor and nutritionist, Department of Human Sciences. Ezekwe can be contacted at 601-8776258 or [email protected].


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