Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I am sure many of you have already drafted your menu and put together a grocery list. But hold up – Turkey Day doesn’t have to be the typical poultry pig-out – you CAN modify the meal in easy (and somewhat sneaky) ways to cut the calories. And since this is only the beginning of the food-fest, I’ll share some other tips to ensure you waist doesn’t widen.
Let’s tackle the bird. Roast the turkey on a rack so fat drips away from him. Use low-sodium broth or light whipped cream cheese to flavor mashed potatoes instead of half and half, butter and sour cream. Low-fat or even non-fat sour cream, cream cheese or yogurt can reduce the calories significantly in recipes that call for these dairy products. Instead of brown sugar, butter and marshmallows, sweeten sweet potatoes with orange juice. For baked goods, use applesauce, pureed white beans or canned pumpkin in place of oil or butter. Skip the fried onions on the green beans, and substitute a green salad for starchy corn.
Put out a platter of fresh fruit and crudite with low-fat yogurt dip and reduced-fat creamy dressing respectively for an appetizer to fill family up before the big meal. During the meal, offer guests spray butter instead of tub or stick style to help control usage. Use smaller salad size plates for meals instead of dinner size to help reduce intake. Use a tablespoon instead of a large serving spoon when plating items . Remove the skin from the turkey before you eat, and for dessert, feast on some more of that fresh fruit with fat-free cool whip instead (don’t make me tell you how many calories are in pecan pie!).
Think your drink. Calories can add up fast so choose sugar-free or calorie-free beverages like water, unsweetened tea, Crystal Light, diet soda or flavored seltzer. Limit your libations such as wine, beer and liquor (after dinner drinks are a killer!). I have a rule – if I have wine, I skip dessert, and vice versa (helps me really reduce my calorie intake).
And it’s not Thanksgiving without a Turkey Trot. Look for fun runs/walks in your area to get a bit of exercise in before the festivities begin. Or take a walk around the neighborhood with the whole family, plan a hike in the park (we have great ones close by), or play flag football or soccer in the back yard.
If you blew it big time and ate till you burst your buttons, don’t sweat it – actually DO sweat it! Get up the next day and get your butt to the gym. Do 15 minutes more of cardio than you usually do, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and eat lightly. Indulging in one large meal does not give you a free pass to pork-down for the rest of the weekend (or month for that matter). You’ve got four weeks till Christmas – monitor your munching so come January first, the scale won’t scare you.