How To Eat Like A Dietitian On Thanksgiving

vegetables-752153_640Thanksgiving is a time of expressing gratitude and reuniting with our loved ones. Like any holiday, Thanksgiving tends to be a very food-focused occasion. However, you don’t have to be a dietitian to eat sensibly on Thanksgiving! There are a few basic strategies and tips to consider before and during your Thanksgiving meal. Practicing moderation this time of year can leave you with a greater appreciation of the holiday and an overall better experience with your family and friends.

Prep With Vegetables

When cooking Thanksgiving dinner, it can be easy to start taste-testing everything. Once you start nibbling, all of those mindless calories can add up. Before you start to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, set aside a plate of raw chopped vegetables to munch on instead. You can dip this in a portioned controlled container of hummus or Greek yogurt-based dip. This simple strategy will help you stay nourished and satiated on fewer calories. Some of my favorite raw vegetables include red bell peppers, sugar snap peas, carrots and jicama sticks.

Divide Your Plate

Aim to fill up half of your plate with a variety of fresh vegetables and salad. This plant-based mindset is important during any holiday or special occasion. Keeping half of your plate green helps cut calories and adds balance to your meal. Have your guests bring vegetable-based dishes, or offer to bring one if you are going to someone else’s home. Cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, pair beautifully with the rest of Thanksgiving dinner. Divide the other half of your plate with turkey, and then pick a starch of your choice.

Choose Your Favorite Foods

There are certain foods on Thanksgiving that only come around once a year. Browse the table to pick out your absolute must-have items. Portion out one plate with these favorite foods and savor every bite! If you feel obligated by a family member to put a certain homemade dish on your plate, don’t feel pressured to eat the whole thing. Take a bite, and then move on to those foods that you have been craving all year!

Get Moving

Since Thanksgiving involves a diverse abundance of food, it is quite beneficial to create a calorie deficit. Exercising can help keep your weight in check and allow for some wiggle-room when it comes to your favorite foods. Sign up for a Turkey Trot walk/run race, which generally takes place early in the morning on Thanksgiving Day. Turkey Trots are an interactive way to spend time with your family and friends, and also make the day less food-focused.

Engage In Conversation

Thanksgiving is about spending time with one another and appreciating all that you have. This time is extremely valuable with your friends and family. Make conversation with those at the dinner table. Conversing during your meal can naturally help slow down your eating and can provide more time for your body to digest your meal gradually.

Eat Mindfully

Thanksgiving full… food coma… painfully stuffed; it’s almost become customary to get uncomfortably full on Thanksgiving Day. Prioritize placing intention on mindfulness when you are eating. You should enjoy your food, but try to tune in to your hunger and satiety signals in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. On that day, make at least some effort to be mindful and listen to your cravings and hunger cues.

PappasHeadsotStefani Pappas, RDN, CPT, is a clinical dietitian at St. Francis Hospital. She is a personal trainer, fitness instructor and contributing writer for Elite Daily.

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Stefani Pappas Sassos
Long Island Weekly columnist Stefani Pappas, RDN, CPT, is a clinical dietitian at St. Francis Hospital. She also provides private and group nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck. Visit Stef Health Tips for more information.

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