One of the most difficult times of the year for those trying to lose weight is the holiday season. While the holidays are a time to get together with family and friends, every party and gathering is also an excuse to take a holiday from your healthy heating habits. A cookie here, a chocolate there, washed down with some egg nog, and before you know it your pants are too tight.
The good news is that with a little foresight, those holiday pounds can be easily avoided while still enjoying the holiday season.
To start off, here are our tips for getting through Thanksgiving:
- Start the feast on a healthy – and filling – note. Instead of caloric dips and fatty appetizers, have low-calorie pre-dinner munchies available during food preparation and pre-dinner socializing.
- Place bowls of different-colored veggies without sauces on the table first, either at the start of the buffet or as the first dishes passed around the table. That will allow people to cover a good portion of their plates with healthier choices before serving calorie-denser foods like stuffing and mashed potatoes.
- Serve salad as a first course. Go heavy on greens, light on non-veggie add-ins like cheese.
- Make the vegetable side dishes the star of the show – or at least the co-star. Try new, eye-appealing and interesting veggie recipes that pack plenty of flavor without extra calories.
- Avoid adding hidden calories during food preparation, such as adding butter to mashed white or sweet potatoes, or butter, oil or cheese to veggies.
- Sneak a few veggies into the dressing, such as diced onions, celery, leeks, shallots, carrots, even cauliflower.
- Make gravy a choice, not the default. Instead, the default serving should be turkey without gravy. If someone wants gravy, they should add it themselves.
- Be mindful of served portion sizes; someone can always ask for more.
- Get everyone up and moving before dessert. Always have plain fruit options along with traditional choices.
- Have plenty of water on the table and readily available. Make non-caloric beverages the default option.
GREEN LIGHT IT UP!
Holiday meals don’t have to pack such a high calorie punch. Simple makeover tips can lighten a meal and keep the taste just as good:
- Baked turkey – choose a plain bird over a self-basting bird to lower the sodium content. To ensure a moist bird, bake un-stuffed, leave the skin on while roasting and remove from the oven when internal temperature reaches 170 degrees in the breast.
- Gravy – use a gravy cup or refrigerate the pan juices (to harden the fat) and skim the fat off before making gravy. Save around 656 grams of fat per cup!
- Candied yams – leave out the margarine and marshmallows. Sweeten with a little fruit juice, such as apple and flavor with cinnamon.
- Green bean casserole – cook fresh green beans with chunks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.
- Mashed potatoes – use skim milk, roasted garlic, and a little parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
- Bread – serve smaller pieces or omit it altogether.
- The plate method – imagine your plate divided into thirds. Use the first third to fan out white meat turkey, no skin. Use the second third for salad and low-fat vegetables. Finally, the last third is for all the starches (sweet potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce).
HOLIDAY FOOD FACTS
A typical Thanksgiving Meal
- Roast turkey (dark and white meat) with skin (4 oz)
- Candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows (1 cup)
- Green bean casserole
- Jellied cranberry sauce (½ cup)
- Caesar salad
- Mashed potatoes with milk and butter (1 cup)
- Apple pie with vanilla ice-cream
- Pecan Pie
TOTAL CALORIES: 2,796 calories OR 7 RED LIGHTS!
Green Light Thanksgiving Meal
- Roast turkey (light meat only), no skin (4oz) (2 GREENS)
- Small Baked sweet potato (1 GREEN)
- Sautéed green beans (1 GREEN)
- Green Light cran-berries sauce (½ cup) (1/2 GREEN)
- Mixed green salad with fat-free Italian Dressing (FREE)
- Mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and skim milk (1 cup) (2 GREENS)
- Green Light pumpkin pie (1 GREEN)
TOTAL CALORIES: 750 calories or 2 RED LIGHTS
RECIPES FOR THANKSGIVING
Green Light Pumpkin Pie
This pumpkin pie saves 244 calories and 14 grams of fat per slice from the traditional version and it tastes identical!
1 cup Fiber One
16 oz. can pumpkin
½ cup egg whites (about 4)
½ cup sugar OR 3 ½ teaspoons Splenda for Recipes
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves)
12 oz. can evaporated skim milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grind the cookies in a food processor.
- Lightly spray a glass pie pan with vegetable cooking spray. Pat the cookie crumbs into the pan evenly.
- Mix the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour into the crust and bake until knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.
- Allow to cool and slice in 8 wedges. Optional: serve each wedge with fat free whipped cream.
Each slice (made with sugar):
128 calories, 0g fat, 05g saturated fat, 2mg cholesterol, 249mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 6.5g protein. (1 YELLOW)
Each slice (made with Splenda):
79 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 2mg cholesterol, 249mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 6.5g protein. (1 GREEN)
Traditional Pumpkin Pie: 557 calories, 33g fat
Traditional Pecan Pie: 680 calories, 35g fat
Green Light Cran-Berries Sauce
This easy to follow recipe is the BEST cranberry sauce you have ever tasted! You will be hooked! It is also great with roast meats, fish and as a dessert topping!
Most cranberry sauce recipes call for one cup of sugar – 774 calories. Instead replace the sugar with splenda and cut the calories in half.
1 10-oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cup of water
1 cup Splenda
1 10 oz. bag frozen blueberries (defrosted) or mixed berries
1 small can crushed pineapple in natural juice (optional)
- Place cranberries, water and Splenda in a medium-sized pot.
- Bring ingredients to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Remove pot from stove and add blueberries and pineapple.
- Place in a container and chill in the refrigerator until needed.
Green Light Cran-Berries Sauce (made with Splenda):
48 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 1g protein. (1/2 GREEN)
Traditional Cranberry Sauce (1 cup):
418 calories, 1g protein, 107g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, <1g fat. (1 RED + 1 GREEN)