Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist practicing in Metro-Atlanta with a focus on whole health wellness, food allergies, digestive health, and nutrition communications. She believes life is best when we focus on the four F’s – faith, food, family and fun. Connect with Sherry via Twitter, Facebook, and on her blog at SouthernFriedNutrition.com.
The holidays are a wonderful time to connect with friends and family and celebrate being together. Even more, in our house Thanksgiving – as its name suggests – is a time to reflect on all that God’s done over the year and to intentionally turn our focus to gratitude. Surely the Thanksgiving holiday is also the celebration that is most focused on food – in many ways to extreme excess. So often we stuff ourselves silly with huge servings of turkey, ham, stuffing (aptly named, right?), creamy casseroles, and oodles of desserts. This huge meal leaves us feeling tired, lethargic, and many times guilty. According to the Calorie Control Council, an individual might eat as many as 3,000 calories just during the Thanksgiving meal alone! But it doesn’t have to be that way.
How can we make this meal…this holiday…different?
- Make it about the love. By love, I’m talking about the love of friends and family, not the love of food. Instead of spending your time huddled around the table, create a football huddle in the front yard! Spend time huddled around a game table, huddled on the front porch talking and catching up, and huddled around a fireplace connecting with your loved ones. Take the time to pray with and for your family, say thanks together, and fill that place in your heart that needs love with true love, not food.
- Be mindful. Pay attention to portions as you fill your plate. If you are eating more than a few sides, just give yourself enough for a few bites – trust me, it will be enough! Once you begin your meal, take your time. Don’t rush! Taste the food. Put down your fork between bites.
- Avoid eating in front of the TV. Seriously. In addition to these strategies, wait 15-20 minutes from the time you eat your meal until you go for seconds or for dessert. It takes a little time for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full…especially when the food looks, smells and tastes so good. Take your time.
- Choose healthfully. Three quick, easy tips for managing this and other meals full of temptation that can help you choose healthfully:
- Portion control is the key to healthful choices. You can eat anything you want, but you can’t eat anything you want anytime you want, in any portion you want and have the health you want. Make choices based on what you want to eat most and choose a few bites of each of those things. Use smaller plates for dessert (not a dinner plate!) or even for your main meal and limit yourself to one trip to the “buffet”.
- Colorful meals are healthier meals. Choose as much variety as possible and look for darker, deeper colors. This will usually lead you to fruits and vegetables – the foods that are full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and usually have fewer calories.
- Limit sweet and creamy options to help manage the calories of this big meal. Look for fruits and vegetables without creamy sauces and dressings, limit casseroles, and choose smaller portions of sweets (or skip them if you’re satisfied already).
Here’s my bonus tip – bring a healthy dish with you to share. If you do this, you’ll know that you can enjoy at least this one dish in abundance without as much worry about overdoing it. My family always asks me to bring the salad – so I make it chock full of deliciousness and healthy.
In fact, come on over to my blog at SouthernFriedNutrition.com for today’s post and a delicious, healthy dish you will love!