What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving? Is it the turkey, the stuffing, or Grandma’s famous pecan pie? Chances are, your favorite part of the holiday has to do with food. Thanksgiving simply wouldn’t be the same without all those delicious dishes. Many of us think we have to throw nutrition and diet out the window in order to enjoy Thanksgiving, but it’s possible to have a scrumptious meal that’s both healthy and nutritious. A few tweaks to the menu can make your Thanksgiving much more heart healthy!
- Beat the urge to snack. Those pre-meal munchies have calories and fat in them! If you’re really hungry, go for a handful of nuts or fresh fruit.
- Stick with the white meat. Turkey is an incredibly lean meat, but the dark meat and skin have about three times as much saturated fat as the breast meat.
- Skip the butter. Season your food with fresh herbs like rosemary or crushed pepper. If you’re preparing food, substitute olive oil for butter. Opt for roasting or baking foods, rather than frying or sautéing them.
- Load up on veggies. Side dishes don’t have to be all starch! Go for a few favorites, but then be sure to offer yummy vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and green beans.
- Ditch the casseroles. All those creamy sauces are filled with fat and cholesterol, and they mask the taste of the veggies. If you can’t live without that green bean casserole, go for low-fat cream of mushroom and low-fat sour cream instead of full-fat versions.
- Watch portion sizes. Many Thanksgiving dishes aren’t regular staples, so it’s tempting to go back for seconds. Try to limit yourself to one trip through the buffet line, and eat the proteins and fresh veggies first.
- Slow it down. Take your time eating. Chew slowly and thoroughly. Slowing your pace will give your body more time to signal it’s full—before you overeat.
- Watch the alcohol. Save the wine, beer, or cocktail for during or after the meal. And moderation is key; experts recommend no more than one drink per day for women, and two per day for men.
- Think twice about dessert. We all love sweets, but consider whether you really need that second piece of pie. If possible, go for healthier desserts like fresh fruit or baked apples.
If you have questions about protecting your heart this holiday season, please contact us at Central Florida Regional Hospital. Visit us online or call 1-800-445-3392 for answers to your questions and free referrals to healthcare professionals in the Seminole and West Volusia County areas.