If you ask most people what their favorite part of Thanksgiving is, they’d tell you it was the food. In fact, a lot of people probably couldn’t tell you anything else they even associate with Thanksgiving! Although I’m sure a few would say the Black Friday shopping part was their favorite, that really doesn’t have anything to do with the celebration of the holiday itself.
I’m not sure why, but it seems to be the only holiday in which food is the only way we really celebrate. Christmas has church and decorating of the house and tree. Halloween has trick-or-treating, dressing up, and enjoying all things scary. With all the association with food, Thanksgiving is definitely one of the toughest holidays to maintain healthy habits. But I know you’re working hard to be a healthier you and you’re looking for a few simple ways to have a healthier Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a dangerous holiday for our stomachs!
Marshmallows on sweet potatoes with brown sugar and tons of butter.
Broccoli and cauliflower smothered in layers of cheese so thick you can barely see the green of the broccoli.
Mashed potatoes buried in a sea of salty gravy.
And what was once my personal favorite, green beans swimming in creamy mushroom soup, topped with crunchy, salty, fried onions.
There are tons of delicious foods that we generally don’t see at other times of the year which makes us want to indulge more than usual. And when we’re spending the whole day cooking or relaxing with family, it makes it really easy to pick and nibble at whatever is available.
A few marshmallows here, an extra helping of stuffing and before you know it you’re on an all-day-graze through a buffet of creamy, salty, and sweetened side dishes and desserts. Why oh why did people decide to take simple, healthy, delicious foods and make them so bad for us? And also so delicious…
It can be hard to make changes to the Thanksgiving meal because these foods are what everyone is used to. It’s tradition! But why do our traditions have to damage our health?
Take a few simple steps to have a healthier Thanksgiving
If you try to make large, sweeping changes and overhaul your Thanksgiving feast, you’re likely going to hear a
ton of whining few complaints. Since no one wants to be that person that ruins the holiday for everyone, I have a way to help you! And it’s really easy.
Slow, small, simple changes. That’s it. Start with a few simple tweaks to your holiday meal. Trick people into eating a healthier Thanksgiving meal! It’s easier than it sounds.
Below are five ways to create a healthier Thanksgiving. None of them are complicated. Most of them people won’t even notice! These simple changes will help you stick to your goal of being a healthier you without feeling like you’re depriving yourself, or others, of the feast of the holidays.
Maybe next year you go a little bigger and make a few more dramatic changes. But this will be a great start to having a healthier Thanksgiving every year going forward.
1. Cook simple veggies without sauces and butter.
To make them more exciting for those who aren’t into straight-up vegetables, roast or saute them and use various spices to create an amazing flavor. People won’t even miss the old way. You can still have butter and gravy available for those who want it if you like. Chances are, those who take it are going to use less than if the veggies had been cooked in it and a lot of people won’t use it at all.
2. Use smaller dinner plates.
This is an easy one. We often use a huge dinner plate and then fill every spare inch available. And then we go back for seconds! If there is less space on the plate, it will hold less food. Even if people go for seconds, they’ll still be eating less than they would have with one of the gigantic plates.
3. Add plain fruit to the menu.
This you can serve either as an appetizer or part of the meal. People love fruit but it’s often missing at holiday meals. It satisfies the sweet tooth though and it can be very filling. Not to mention it adds lots of flavorful, healthy fiber and nutrition to the meal. For every spoonful of melon or berries, that’s one less spoonful of marshmallow covered sweet potatoes going onto the plate and into your tummy.
4. Serve soup and/or salad.
Healthy soups and salads with lots of veggies and healthy dressing options will help fill guests up so they aren’t starving by the time the turkey is ready. It ensures a good serving of vegetables and a smaller portion of the heavier, more unhealthy options.
5. Offer one kind of dessert.
This one is huge. People tend to want to sample a bit of everything when there are multiple kinds of pie, cake, and cookies. Everyone is more likely to stick to one serving if there is only one kind available. Decide what the most popular option is and serve that. If you normally get three or four different desserts, this year get or make the same amount but all the same. Everyone can still have dessert but most people won’t overdo it and get an entire plateful. With everyone taking fewer servings, you may have leftovers.
Those are my five easy ways to make a healthier Thanksgiving feast for you and your family. No need to deprive anyone of their favorite dishes, just a few ideas to keep everyone from going overboard.
The holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy family. We shouldn’t have to stress out about what we eat, how much we eat, or how many calories are in what we’re eating. If you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have to. You’ll have a few more healthy options to fill up on and a few fewer temptations.
Everyone eventually stops eating once they’re full enough. This will help you get full in a healthier way!