Simple, smarter choices for your holiday feast

As we gather at our tables for gratitude and turkey, Molly Brennan, RD, CD, has a few pointers for minimizing the guilt on your plate.

Mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey, oh my! Between the slices of pie, tins of cookies, delicious casseroles and delectable turkey, trying to navigate your health goals around the holidays is a daunting task. Have no fear though, your friendly Parkview dietitian is here! By making a few mindful choices you can enjoy your pie and turkey without feeling “stuffed”. 

A bit of mindfulness
  • Make time for movement. Take a morning stroll with the family to a nearby park. Offer to take the dogs out for a walk. Go for a light jog. Start a game of football or basketball with the kids.
  • Eat breakfast and snack throughout the day.  Starving yourself up until the main meal only helps contribute to the need to overeat, and consequently will leave you feeling overly stuffed.
  • Focus on the conversations and time with friends.  Make the focus of your day less on the meal and more on enjoying the experience of reconnecting with others.
Make simple swaps
  • Browse first.  Take a look at all your food options before beginning to fill your plate, and make at least half of your plate fruits or vegetables. 
  • When in doubt, pick light meat.  Choose the white meat of the turkey breast, which is much lower in saturated fat than the dark meat.
  • Update a family favorite.  Prepare your own stuffing mix, using whole wheat bread cubed to lower the sodium content and add more nutrient-dense whole grains.
  • Find a fresh alternative.  It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the green bean casserole. Try using fresh green beans and the lower sodium version of cream of mushroom soup to keep the sodium content in check.
  • Mix it up.  Mashed potatoes and gravy are a must at any holiday table. To sneak in a healthy dose of potassium and fiber, mix and mash boiled cauliflower with your traditional potatoes.
  • Experiment.  Try roasting cubed sweet potatoes with a drizzle of maple syrup, sprinkle of cinnamon, and roasted pecans as a healthier alternative to the more traditional marshmallow laden sweet potatoes casserole.
  • Pick pumpkin.  No Thanksgiving meal would be complete without a delicious slice of pie. Instead of pecan, opt for pumpkin, which is lower in saturated fat and sugar. Not to mention a healthy dose of vitamin A.


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