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Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

Holiday favorites have a place on the menu as part of the fun and tradition of the season.

Updated 11/2020.

This is inspired by an article I originally wrote for Lawndale News when I worked for Jewel-Osco. 

Can we eat decadent treats and still be healthy? YES! The key is to consider your whole day, not just one food or meal.   Try these strategies to enjoy the holiday and still stay on track with your health goals.

  •  Be ready for breakfast.   Breakfast can help set the tone for the day and provide a good start to getting important nutrients/food groups you need.   Enjoy foods that may not be served at the main meal, such as whole grain toast or oatmeal paired with fruit, low fat dairy, and even a serving of vegetables.  Try stirring a little canned pumpkin into oatmeal for a festive way to enjoy a veggie in the morning, or perhaps acorn squash with a smidge of butter and brown sugar sounds like a festive way to get a veggie start your day. Your morning choices can help balance holiday treats that you’ll enjoy later.
  • Get active.   Appropriate activity helps with so many things, from stress management to calorie burning to simply feeling better after sitting for a while. Try a brisk walk around the block before or after meals. Stretch while you watch television. Dance around the kitchen while you cook.  Every action counts!
  • Be your own holiday helper.   Manage your intake by replacing your normal treat foods with holiday treats. Consider portion sizes and balance higher calorie choices with lower calorie options.
  • Dip it real good.  Make your dip dunkers festive veggies instead of just serving chips and crackers. Serve festive red and green pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower florets, and cherry tomatoes for starters if you are looking for a merry treat. Challenge the kids to come up with fruits and veggies in the colors of your holiday table. Why? One serving of raw veggies like carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, bell pepper, or cauliflower provides about 25 calories.  Ten potato chips are around 100 calories.  The food math makes sense before dinner even starts.
  • Pay attention to portions.   Keep that festive math going! A teaspoon of fat has about 45 calories, so higher fat foods have more calories in a littler portion.  Try salsa on baked potatoes for a fat free and zesty topper. Make mashed potatoes with low sodium broth, herbs, and spices to add flavor without extra fat and calories.
  • Get back to the regularly scheduled program.   Enjoying party foods at a party for one day is one thing, eating party foods for several days after the party is another.   From managing portions at meals and snacks to remembering that leftovers can be frozen to enjoy another day, consider what you can do to manage how much you take in on the party day.

Be happy and thankful for what we have and enjoy the choices you make. Holidays come but once a year. Enjoy them and take care of yourself. You can do it.

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.