Live well with Osler

Tips for a healthier Thanksgiving

The temperature is cooling, the leaves are changing and Thanksgiving is upon us. Thanksgiving weekend is a time for getting together with family and friends to celebrate the harvest and enjoy a delicious meal. However, because of all the butter and sugar used in the recipes, this delicious meal is often not very healthy.

As you head out for a weekend of turkey, stuffing and pie, here are a few tips and tricks to make healthier choices this thanksgiving:

  1. Don’t starve yourself beforehand: Eat breakfast and maybe even a small lunch before your Thanksgiving meal so you aren’t famished at dinnertime and don’t overfill your plate. Try eating high fibre, high protein items – such as bran cereal, whole grain bread, lean meats, nut butters, veggies and fruit – during the day to help you feel full for longer.
  2. Be smart with ingredients: Try to limit the “hidden calorie” ingredients – such as butter and cream – you use while preparing your food. Use herbs, spices, onion and garlic to provide flavour. Plain Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for sour cream – it contains extra protein, which keeps you full for longer.
  3. Divide your plate: When filling your plate, aim to fill half of it with a rainbow of colourful vegetables (salads, carrots, beans, etc.), a quarter with protein (turkey, chicken, ham, tofu, etc.) and a quarter with starch (potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, etc.).
  4. Think small: Choose small portions so you can enjoy all your favourite dishes without overeating. This goes for dessert too!
  5. Take it slow: Chat with your family, chew your food and enjoy yourself! Eating slowly will help you avoid overeating and give your body time to register your fullness.
  6. Condiments count: Many condiments are high in sugar, salt or both and offer little nutritional value (cranberry sauce, we’re looking at you!). Try to limit yourself to a spoonful or less.
  7. Get moving: Encourage your family to go for a walk, play football or take part in some other physical activity throughout the weekend to help work off some of those Thanksgiving calories.

Do you want to make your Thanksgiving dishes healthier, but you aren’t sure where to start? Here are a couple of tricks to make your sides delicious and even more nutritious:

  1. Stuffing: To lower the fat content of your turkey dinner, moisten your traditional bread stuffing with reduced sodium broth, such as chicken or vegetable.
  2. Gravy: Before making your gravy, use a fat separator or refrigerate the juices in the roasting pan and skim off the fat.
  3. Veggies: Toss veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper, and any other herbs or spices you’d like to add. Roast them in the oven at 400°F until they’re browned – usually about 10 to 15minutes, depending on the size of the veggie. For extra flavour, add lemon zest or parmesan before serving.
  4. Dessert: When putting together dessert, you can usually reduce the sugar by a ¼ cup or less without any noticeable difference to the texture. Alternatively, a nice tray of fresh fruit makes a beautiful and healthy dessert.