Written By: Charmaine Jones, MS, RDN, LDN — Superfeet Wellness Panel Member. Charmaine Jones is the founder and owner of Food Jonezi, a website and nutrition counseling service dedicated to ensuring all individuals have access to proper food and nutrition education to achieve optimal health.
Almost all of us look forward to this time of year.
We enjoy the change of season. The leaves turn to a vibrant autumn color, the cold crisp weather sends a chill up our spine, and best of all, we gather together to spend time and dine with our family and friends.
While the eating part can be the most anticipated aspect of this time of the year, it can also be the most challenging. This season is when we want to forget all about healthy eating habits and chow-down on our favorite cuisine and desserts and drink our favorite beverages.
Unsurprisingly, weight gain during the holiday season can be a real issue. According to a study from Cornell University, people gain an average of 1.3 lbs during the time between Christmas and New Year's Day alone. And, it can take nearly five months to lose the weight gained.
I'm here to say: Thanksgiving dinner and other holiday celebrations don't have to be full of fried foods and sugary desserts to be enjoyable and delicious.
Your holiday meal should include a variety of staple items that include a few of your favorite green leafy vegetables (like collards, spinach, broccoli), lean protein, high fiber starchy vegetables (like roasted potatoes with the skin and whole grain dinner rolls), fruits, and of course, a healthy serving of dessert.
Read on for suggestions for swapping out traditional Thanksgiving indulgences with healthier alternatives.
Healthy Thanksgiving Swaps
Thanksgiving Indulgence: Candied Yams
Healthier Alternative: ½ Cup Sweet Potatoes
Thanksgiving Indulgence: Two Layer Mac & Cheese
Healthier Alternative: ½ Cup Baked Basil Mac & Cheese
Thanksgiving Indulgence: White Dinner Rolls
Healthier Alternative: 1 Serving Whole Grain Dinner Rolls
Thanksgiving Indulgence: Fried Turkey
Healthier Alternative: 3-4 Ounces Roasted Turkey Slices
Thanksgiving Indulgence: Classic Green Bean Casserole
Healthier Alternative: 1 Cup Steamed Green Beans
Thanksgiving Indulgence: Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Healthier Alternative: ½ Cup Roasted Skin-On Potatoes
Thanksgiving Indulgence: Sugary Alcoholic Beverages
Healthier Alternative: 5 Ounces Low Carb Sparkling Cosmo
Thanksgiving Indulgence: 2 Servings of Apple Pie
Healthier Alternative: 1 Serving of Apple Pie (1/6 of 8-inch pie)
· Exchange your large dinner plate for a smaller one to help manage food portions.
· Keep alcohol and wine intake at a minimum.
· Fill half your plate with leafy vegetables to get fuller faster on the fiber.