Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Holidays
Have a healthy Thanksgiving
Melissa Bess, former Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Camden County; Edited by Jessica Kovarik, RD, LD, former Extension Associate, University of Missouri Extension
Thanksgiving is usually one of those holidays where second helpings are a must. Some Thanksgiving meals can equal the amount of calories and fat we need in an entire day, or even more! Here are some ways to make your Thanksgiving feast healthier.
- Plan ahead and look for healthy Thanksgiving
recipes. You will find many healthier versions of
traditional dishes in which the fat is reduced but the
flavor is retained. See the
Healthy Habits recipes on
MissouriFamilies.org for a wide variety of healthy recipes. The fun part will be seeing if anyone
can even tell the difference.
- Enjoy turkey. With the skin removed, turkey has a good amount
of protein and little fat or saturated fat. Dark meat has more
fat than white meat. Roast or bake instead of frying.
- Eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of
potassium (can help lower blood pressure), vitamin A and beta carotene
(both help with healthy vision),
vitamin C (an antioxidant, protective against diseases), and
fiber (promotes a healthy digestive system and may prevent diseases).
Try to limit or avoid using brown sugar, marshmallows and butter on
sweet potato dishes. Use other seasonings such as cinnamon,
ginger or orange rind for flavor. Or try a new recipe for a savory
sweet potato dish rather than a sweet one.
- Try a different type of pumpkin dessert instead of pumpkin pie. Pumpkin has similar
nutrients to sweet potatoes. Make a pumpkin custard or pumpkin
pudding using ginger or cinnamon for
- Use evaporated skim milk instead of regular
evaporated milk in recipes. This applies to many dessert recipes.
- Make your own cranberry sauce. Buy fresh or frozen cranberries
and you will have a tastier and less sugary version than what
comes in a can. Cranberries are full of antioxidants, which
help protect against many different diseases.
- If you make bread, rolls, muffins or other similar
recipes, replace all (or at least some) of the white flour
with whole wheat flour for extra fiber. If you don’t bake,
purchase whole wheat or whole grain rolls instead of white.
Limit the amount of rolls you eat, as well as the butter you
use on them.
- Steam vegetables and eat them plain instead of with lots
of butter or creamy sauces.
- Remember food safety — thaw the turkey correctly, cook all
foods to the proper temperature, put leftovers into the refrigerator
or freezer within 2 hours, and re-heat leftovers to the proper
temperature. Your local MU Extension office is a great resource
if you need more information.
- Don’t skip meals before the feast; this may make you more
likely to overeat.
- Watch portion sizes. You can enjoy many different foods
at Thanksgiving, but moderate portion sizes are key.
- Go for a walk before or a few hours after the meal. Moderate to vigorous exercise can help accelerate calorie and fat burning, and is a great way to socialize with family or friends. A walk will also help increase energy levels if you are feeling sluggish or tired.
Moderation, not deprivation, is the key to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
Last update: Monday, November 14, 2016