Ah, Thanksgiving. A day of food, family, and feeling good. The first thing that comes to mind is the Thanksgiving FEAST. Although times are changing, this is still a time when Americans want to savor the joys of eating traditional meals with their families.

It’s also a time when people overdo the feasting and have to deal with the effects of overconsumption – and too much sitting and watching parades and football. It can leave you feeling really lethargic and bloated.

It’s not easy to take good care of your eating with all the aromas of Thanksgiving dinner foods being prepared, lingering in the air and leaving your mouth watering. It’s very easy to throw caution to the wind and just flat pig out.

What Can You Do to Eat Right?

If you want to avoid the negative parts of the holiday, it helps to plan ahead. Having a schedule can make all the difference.
• Eat breakfast in the morning
• Have the BIG Thanksgiving meal between noon and 3 PM
• Have a smaller dinner or snack in the early evening – before 8 PM
• Don’t get TOO crazy with desserts at any time!

It also helps to think your way through the traditional foods – and how they make you feel – before over-indulging. Let’ run through the menu.

Turkey (Yum!)

Roasted turkey is the traditional cornerstone of Thanksgiving eating. The good news is that actually has many health benefits.

  • Turkey is a great source of healthy protein. Most people are aware that protein is good for them, especially older folks.
  • Turkey with the skin removed is actually a low-fat, lean meat. The white meat contains even less fat than is found in the darker portion.
  • There are a lot of good things in turkey besides Tryptophan. The goodies include iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorous and B Vitamins which are important for your health and vitality.

But beware:

  • Turkey can be high in sodium, especially it has been “brined”
  • Stuffing is not the healthiest thing in the world. Except for a light touch of healthy herbs, it’s usually composed of over-processed white bread and sometimes processed meats. Chestnuts, on the other hand, are low in calories and fat and are an excellent source of Vitamin C, so consider them as a healthy ingredient.

7 healthy multi-colored squash

Squash

• If it hasn’t been overcooked, squash is terrifically healthy – it’s high in Vitamin A, C, E and B6, squash as well as potassium and good fiber
• It can lower blood pressure, so be careful if you suffer from hypotension
• Spaghetti squash is good for weight loss food and can be added to salad or even added – along with cauliflower – to make mashed potatoes a little lighter

Mashed Potatoes

• Potatoes contain fiber, potassium, Vitamin C and B6
• Unfortunately, they also have a high level of carbohydrates and have a high glycemic index – which means they digest quickly and cause in blood sugar
• Adding milk and butter added to calories and can wreak havoc on your cholesterol level

Sweet Potatoes

• The good news is they also have many of the same good qualities as regular potatoes
• BUT, take it easy on the butter and brown sugar

Gravy

• Delicious but dangerous – turkey and mash without gravy? Unthinkable!
• Just remember that gravy is made from meat juices, fat drippings, and flour or corn starch

Cranberry Sauce

• Cranberries help urinary tract infections are antioxidants
• They contain fiber, vitamin C, and very little fat
• Danger, danger, danger – dried cranberries have a high level of fructose – sugar
• Commercial cranberry sauce is high in calories, sugar and fat BUT homemade sauce, allowing you have control over the ingredients, makes it much less dangerous

Carrots

• Carrots are loaded with Vitamin A – good for just everything
• Carrots also contain good amounts of Vitamins K and C

Green beans

• Regular green beans are low in calories and high in fibers and vitamins (C, K, A and B6) and minerals (calcium, potassium, and iron)
• Green bean casseroles with onions are great when made from scratch, the canned variety has most vitamins cooked out and tends to be high in sodium

Dinner Rolls

• Each small roll accounts for about 10% of the daily recommended amount of carbohydrates
• Prepared rolls are usually high in sodium
• Buttering – you might want to take this easy

A slice of pumpkin pie dessert

Pumpkin or Apple Pie

• By themselves, pumpkin and apples are good, rich in fiber
• Adding flour, sugar, butter and/or cream significantly increases saturated fat and calories

The Bottom Line

We’ve all heard it before – you get some great positives from Thanksgiving food – BUT you need to eat in moderation!