Are you already bracing yourself for the damage the Thanksgiving buffet might cause to your diet? The fall season can be a great time to get back to healthy habits after summer vacations, but these habits can easily fall by the wayside once the holidays hit.
Today, let’s talk about how to build a healthier Thanksgiving plate through five simple tips that will allow you to enjoy the flavors of the holiday while sticking to nutritious habits.
Offer to bring a salad or healthy side dish. If you’re not the one hosting Thanksgiving dinner, it can be difficult to know if there will be healthy options available. Offer to bring a big green salad or healthier side dish. Some of my favorites include these lentil stuffing muffins, healthier sweet potato casserole with pecan oat topping and these orange balsamic glazed Brussel sprouts.
Anticipate your plate. If you think you need to add everything that’s on the buffet table to your plate, think again. Instead of indulging first, indulge last to avoid the dreaded Thanksgiving food coma.
To do this, first scope out all of your options before starting to build your plate. It can be easy to underestimate the foods you haven’t gotten to in the buffet line when you don’t know what’s coming next. Next, fill your plate with turkey, salad greens and veggies. Indulge last by saving a little room on your plate for one or two things that you want a taste of, such as macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole or a piece of twice baked potatoes.
Still hungry? Go for protein, first, to fill you up and keep calories in check.
Swap steamed or roasted veggies for veggie casseroles. Traditional casserole dishes are loaded with butter, creams and cheeses. Make your veggie sides lighter by swapping for steamed or roasted veggies. Thanksgiving favorites include green beans, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and winter squashes! Add flavor by adding fresh citrus zest and herbs.
Still not willing to part ways with your beloved casseroles? Try swapping butter for coconut oil, creams for coconut milk, and brown sugar for coconut sugar for a healthier dish!
Make an ice cream scooper your best friend. I’ll never forget when a friend once told me she brings an ice cream scooper to holiday dinners. I thought it was a bit ridiculous at the time, but when we’re talking about sticking to portion control, it’s genius! A few other visual guides to help with portion control include using your closed fist as a guide for side dishes and the size of your palm for protein portions.
Leave a little room for a party on your plate. To minimize any feelings of deprivation while salivating at the “must not touch” foods on the buffet table, leave a little room on your plate for smart indulgences. What I mean by a “smart” indulgence is allowing yourself a little taste of
foods that don’t quite fit into the nutritious category. Chew your food well and savor every bite to make the indulgence worth it’s while. Once the indulgent food has lost its flavor and you’re still eating it because there’s extra left on your plate, that’s when you know you’ve had enough.
Leaving a little room for a party on your plate allows the majority of the plate to be filled with healthier options, while still giving yourself the flexibility to enjoy a few indulgences on the Thanksgiving spread.
Instead of focusing on the foods you should and shouldn’t have, redirect your focus to being in the present moment surrounded by friends and family. That’s what the holiday season is all about!