NEW YORK (October 2013) — Holiday dinners are filled with heaping dishes of comfort foods, fattening favorites, and savory treats. It is no wonder these meals often leave us feeling stuffed with guilt and holiday remorse.
Patricia Nicholas, a registered dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, says you can avoid this psychological turmoil by adding “new favorites” to the traditional dishes. “Have fun with your menu and include authentic Thanksgiving foods. Pilgrims didn’t have sugar, and potatoes had not been introduced to the area yet. Your new, healthy dish can be one actually served at the first Thanksgiving.”
Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, says, “If you’re watching your weight, or just trying to eat healthy, you don’t have to deprive yourself of a great meal on Thanksgiving Day. However, you do need a plan so you don’t end up feeling stuffed—and remorseful—after dinner.”
The following is the holiday feast survival guide — a roadmap to keep you and your diet from straying too far this year.
• Re-think your appetizers. Incorporate healthier pre-meal snack options. Include a platter of beautiful berries, pineapple, and apples.
• Choose smaller portions. You can still taste all the foods in your holiday spread without overeating. Remember, an occasional indulgence will not destroy your weight-loss attempts, and if you don’t love something, don’t eat it.
• The only thing that should be stuffed during the holidays is the turkey! Just because there is more food sitting around, does not mean you need to eat more. A forkful of pie will do less damage than a whole piece.
• Have a calorie-free chat instead of second helpings. The holidays are a great time to engage in conversation with your loved ones – and this will not add inches to your waistline. Just be sure to move the conversation away from the food!
• Make sure you eat prior to a holiday party or dinner. You are less likely to overeat if you have eaten well throughout the day.
• Include your exercise program as one of your holiday activities. Bundle up and take a walk after your holiday meal – this not only can prevent you from overeating and picking at leftovers, but is also a great way to burn off some of the extra calories you may have consumed.
This article originally appeared on the website of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.