The holidays will be here before you know it, and that means spending quality time with family and friends, planning the perfect meal and, for many of us, doing our best to make healthy choices when our favorite foods are being served. The average American may eat anywhere from 3,000-4,500 calories during the Thanksgiving meal and 30 grams of sugar BEFORE dessert, but there are ways to trim those numbers.
“Whether you are counting carbohydrates, watching your weight or trying to cut back on your sodium intake, your best bet to alleviate stress is to plan ahead so you can enjoy spending time with your loved ones,” said Kellee Marshall, MS, RD, LD, clinical dietitian with Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HSHS Medical Group. She provided the following tips:
Don’t starve yourself. Skipping meals/eliminating carbs before the event increases risk for low blood sugar and an increased appetite. Eat something before you go to prevent overeating. Some ideas for foods to eat before you go include vegetable soup, almonds, a medium apple, low-fat deli meat or string cheese.
Separate yourself from the snack table. Once you’ve filled your plate, head to a spot away from the food. Eat while seated; you’re more likely to recognize your fullness signals and less likely to walk back over to refill your plate.
Slow things down. Eat slowly and enjoy conversations. Put your fork down between bites. Take a drink of water or a sugar-free beverage. Take time to recognize the feelings of fullness.
Allow for indulgences. If there’s a dish you really love and you know that this is the only time of year that you’ll be able to have it, go ahead and take a small portion. Savor it, along with some lower-carb options like non-starchy vegetables or protein, and you’ll be glad you didn’t deprive yourself of what you really love.
If you want to take or make a healthy dish for Thanksgiving, Marshall recommends this Cauliflower Hash Browns recipe:
Cauliflower Hash Browns Slow-Cooker Breakfast Casserole
½ cup skim milk
½ tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 head cauliflower, shredded
1 small onion, diced
1 package Jimmy Dean fully cooked turkey sausage crumbles (may use 1-pound bulk breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled; or bacon, vegetarian sausage crumbles or chopped ham)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Coat a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray or insert a crockpot disposable liner. Lightly beat together the eggs, milk, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Place about 1/3 of the shredded cauliflower in an even layer on the bottom of the slow cooker and top with about 1/3 of the onion, 1/3 of the sausage and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat layers two more times. Pour egg mixture over the contents of the slow cooker. Cook on low for 5-7 hours or until eggs are set and top is browned.
Makes 10 servings.
Nutrition Information (1 cup): 213 calories, 13 grams of fat, 5 grams carbohydrate and 424 mg sodium