Friday, October 25, 2013

Planning for a healthful Thanksgiving

Fall Blog Chain     

This post is a part of the Fantabulous Fall Favorites blog chain put together by a great group of bloggers. The theme this week is Thanksgiving. Be sure to check out all the great ideas shared at the end of this post!

There is a crazy phenomenon in America that I like to call the Three-Month-Long-Halloween-Christmas-Thanksgiving-New-Year Food Fest. I always end up feeling bad at the end of this.

Heaps and heaps of less-than-healthy food for weeks on end. The Halloween candy in our house gets munched on before Halloween, on Halloween, after Halloween. I've taken to freezing some of it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Then the Thanksgiving and Christmas spreads are eaten for a week afterwards, and of course too many appetizers, hors d'oeuvres (I really don't like that word. I had to Google how to spell it) and mixed drinks on New Year's Eve, plus more food New Year's Day. Ugh.

So, my goal this year is to try and keep it on the healthy track. These are the ways I want to do that: 

Be prepared

By this I mean mentally and physically. Be prepared to NOT over-indulge. Use portion control. I want to try some of everything but not LOTS of everything. 

I also plan to eat a good, sturdy, healthy breakfast so I am not completely ravenous and uninhibited when I sit down to eat Thanksgiving dinner. 

Choose ingredients wisely

I think lower calorie or lower fat versions of most things are just fine. I plan to substitute skim milk, fat free cream cheese, fat free cream soups, fat free sour cream, fat free sweetened condensed or evaporated milk, and low-cal cool whip.

In many recipes, you can also scale back the sugar and butter, or substitute things like applesauce or canned pumpkin for oil. If you're making a rice dish, use brown. If you're bringing bread, choose 100% whole wheat. If you're making a dessert, at least have it be a fruit one so you get fiber and nutrients from things like apple, pumpkin, peach or berries. I think that's at least somewhat better than plain cookies or cake.

Brady made this in kindergarten and hauls it out every year at Thanksgiving. Isn't it cute? I want to teach him healthy habits even on holidays.

Mindful dishing

We all know the four-portions-of-the-plate rule: one quarter protein, one quarter carbs, the other half fruits and veggies. I'm going to try and keep this in mind when I fill my plate. 

It will help me fill up and fuel my body. Instead of a plate that's half turkey and half potatoes with a side of dessert, I will try and get a nice bit of protein, a starchy carb like corn, potato, grits or hominy, and the rest fruit and veggie dishes.

Go easy on refined stuff

I may just skip bread altogether this year and just go with the starchy carbs mentioned above.

Cooking method matters too

We typically smoke our meats, whether it is turkey, ham or venison, and I like it WAY better than anything fried. If at all possible, bake, steam, grill or smoke rather than fry.

Wait between firsts and seconds

This will be tough, but I am planning to wait a few minutes between finishing my first plate of food before ever thinking about seconds. I may actually get seconds, but hopefully not as much.

Work it off

I want to make certain Brady and I get some physical activity on a day we've splurged whether it's walking, biking, soccer, sledding, whatever. 

Bring your own healthy food

Just like with the Super Bowl this year, I want to bring healthy dishes myself so I can have more of those and less higher-calorie items.

Beware dessert 

I've been trying to avoid sugar more now anyway, but my problem on a holiday is, I eat dessert at lunch, then another piece at dinner, then another piece for breakfast. NO! I don't want to do that this year. One piece of dessert per day, PERIOD! 

I hope these tips will help me avoid the typical weight gain this time of year and overall health slump. Plus I want to set a good example for Brady about healthy eating and restraint while still enjoying the holidays.





38 comments:

  1. Awesome tips. I host Thanksgiving every year and I would be LOST if I didn't plan ahead. I start making lists and purchasing my food, etc at the beginning of November.

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    1. It is a lot of work when you're hosting to make everyone feel welcome and comfy :)

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  2. Thanks for the tips. I am going to let my Hubs read these ones. This is the first year he will be on a diet for Thanksgiving. I am hoping he doesn't over do it. I plan on making a dessert for him and I that is free of sugar.

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    1. Dieting is SO hard. That's why I'd like to stay on the healthy path so I don't have to do dieting in January!

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  3. You have great tips here. I would be wary of low-fat versions of anything. Often they have chemicals added (mono- and diglycerides among others) that mimic fat and are not whole foods by any means.

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    1. Missy, I'll have to check that out when buying stuff. I had always thought fat-free dairy was okay, just was made with skim milk instead but never thought about what they might be adding to it!

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  4. I try but I usually slip up...a lot. Lol :)

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  5. Thanksgiving is rough--you have to have noodles and mashed potatoes and rolls but MAN, talk about carbo-loading! That's my downfall, even moreso than the desserts! :)

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    1. Total carb fest! I have to psych myself up a head of time not to overdo it, which I might still, just a little :)

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  6. Wow it's already that time of the year, how the time flies...I've only recently started to ear non-low-fat (if this is a word at all). Until now I thought low-fat is the healthy one, but nop, it's not...Btw bread is good as long as it's not made from white flour.

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    1. I can't believe it either! After reading Missy's comment too, I'll have to look more into the low fat stuff. Most bread people bring is not whole wheat. I have yet to bake with whole wheat flour, I keep meaning to try it.

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  7. These are great tips!!! I LOVE Thanksgiving - it's my favorite holiday! I can't wait!

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  8. Great reminders about being proactive instead of reactive! And I love that it's ideas anyone can do!

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    1. Thanks, Tammy. Mostly it helps to get MYSELF motivated! Ha!

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  9. Eating a substantial, healthy breakfast is a great idea! Portion control is usually my big downfall.

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    1. It makes such a big difference for me! Too often I skip it cuz I'm busy and then I end up ravenous!

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  10. Being sure to exercise afterwards is a great idea. We usually go to the Christmas tree farm that afternoon and hike around the hills until we find a tree we like.

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    1. That's a perfect idea! It's too easy to nap, veg in front of the TV, whatever, and not burn off some of that wonderful food.

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  11. I had an uncle that would always smoke turkey at Thanksgiving. That is my favorite way to have it prepared. Baked turkey just isn't the same. Good tips on maintaining some self discipline during the holidays. I hope I have the will power to stay some-what disciplined.

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    1. I LOVE smoked meats. I rarely had them until I married my husband 2 years ago and it is my favorite.

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    2. See about the carcinogenic properties added to meat from smoking
      Also use a thermometer when smoking to ensure a proper temp to kill parasites and bacteria.

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  12. What great reminders! Thank you for sharing this! I think my readers would love this and maybe you can add it to my Family Friday Link-up party which is still open! http://livinthemomlife.com/family-fridays-link-up-party/

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    1. Thanks Carli! Dang, I missed the link up this week. It was kind of a crazy weekend here with our fall festival and my kiddo going with my ex's side of the family for a birthday party :( I hope to next week!

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  13. Those are some really great tips. I usually prepare our thanksgiving dinner along with hubby and we usually go all out. This year I think we're also going to go a bit healthier. :)

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    1. It just kills me that I try and maintain healthy eating all year then go nutso during the holidays, LOL! It makes no sense but I've always done that. Time to change it this year!

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  14. I try to eat healthly all year round, so I let myself enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner to the fullest. lol

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    1. LOL, well, there is some truth and sense in that :) My problem is, once I fall off the wagon it takes me too long to get back on!

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  15. This is great advice Stephanie! Thanks for sharing. I'm going to take your advice and make these holidays as healthy as I can.

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  16. Such a good idea to wait a while before seconds. Especially when you know there will be leftovers. :-) And I love smoked turkey - it's amazing!!! Unfortunately I don't have a smoker so I to enjoy it when others make it.

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    1. It's hard to do, but I'm going to really try! And yes, I LOVE Thanksgiving leftovers. YUM!

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  17. Wonderful tips! Thanks for linking at Family Fun Friday. Pinned!
    Monica
    http://www.happyandblessedhome.com/2013/10/family-fun-friday-week-42.html

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  18. Great tips! I honestly didn't know the " four-portions-of-the-plate rule". Glad you shared! Something I've been doing in general is to watch how much sugar I consume. One dessert per day is a good plan. :)

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    1. I've been reading about it for awhile now, it's the new "thing" the experts talk about. It does seem to make sense. Yes, I'm watching sugar too! It helps a lot.

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