Fit Family: 8 Simple Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving

by Mike Levinson

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 4.00.38 PMOnce a year, some of us take that extra serving of stuffing and end up stuffing ourselves a little too full. The average American consumes about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving—that’s about three times the calories than our bodies need. This Thanksgiving, you don’t have to be so quick to throw out your healthy eating habits. There are simple, healthy ways to enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving flavors without having to unbutton your pants at the table.

Tip #1: Stay away from pre-dinner snacking. Those calories from those chips, crackers, nuts and cheese add up fast. Cutting out these snacks can saves hundreds of calories.

Tip #2: Fill up on protein foods. Foods with protein can make you feel fuller and eat less.

Tip #3: Modify traditional recipes to reduce calories and add nutritional value. For example, stuffing can be modified to be healthier by subbing out bread and replacing it with whole-grain rice or quinoa.

Tip #4: Think about how you’ll feel tomorrow. Eating unhealthy can make us feeling bloated, tired and regretting our food choices the next day. Treat your body nicely and nourish it properly.

Tip #5: Don’t go for seconds (or thirds, or fourths, etc.). The food might taste delicious, but a “taste” of each dish is really all you need. Box up the leftovers and save it for the rest of the week—you could have a turkey sandwich for lunch on Monday.

Tip #6: Have bread or dessert but not both. Think about it: do you want 160 calories from a dinner roll or a small piece of pumpkin pie?

Tip #7: Drink water. Water is calorie-free and can make you feel fuller, faster. By choosing to drink water instead of juice, beer, wine or other beverages, you lower your calorie intake and help your body flush out toxins. Most of the traditional Thanksgiving foods are packed with sodium, which can dehydrate your body. Drinking water will help keep your body hydrated.

Tip #8: Don’t feel the need to eat everything on your plate. If you’re not hungry anymore, stop eating. There’s no need to stuff your body if you’ve already had enough to eat. In order to prevent you from over-serving yourself, try placing your food on the plate so that nothing touches—doing this will make you have to take smaller portions.

Thanksgiving is for giving thanks and blessings, and if part of that thanks for you is having a “cheat day” from eating healthy—then go for it.

Mike Levinson, a Calabasas resident, is a former amateur bodybuilding champion and registered dietitian who holds dual degrees in sports nutrition and physical education. He has worked extensively as a nutritionist with the California Angels baseball team and with famous athletes such as Charles Oakley, JT Snow and Sean Rooks. He also worked as a nutritionist for the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders.  

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