Gobble up this Thanksgiving Meal Advice
Many people see Thanksgiving as a downfall to their health; a day that inevitably leads to overindulging on rich foods, followed by the uncomfortable feeling of being “stuffed.” But it doesn’t have to be this way! Thanksgiving is actually a wonderful time to take advantage of the great variety of nutrients that are on the table. By making a few small tweaks to some traditional dishes, you can enjoy familiar flavors and still feel good about your health. Here are just a few examples:
Turkey: Many people choose white meat due to it being overall lower in calories and fat (a turkey breast has about 160 calories and 6 grams of fat, whereas a thigh has 190 calories and 10 grams of fat). However, dark meat is also higher in iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Overall, the differences are minimal, and, either way you go, turkey is a great source of lean protein and a good source of selenium, B vitamins, and phosphorus.
Stuffing/Dressing: So far as stuffing goes, try swapping out your instant boxed stuffing (which is higher is sodium, fat, and preservatives) and use a homemade recipe that incorporates whole-wheat bread, fresh herbs, and lots of veggies like celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
Potatoes: Instead of mashed potatoes with butter and cream, use turkey/chicken broth, evaporated skim milk, or non-fat Greek yogurt (a great source of added protein). For added nutritional variety, mix with pureed cooked cauliflower, turnips, or parsnips. Sweet potatoes are another great choice and an excellent source of vitamin A, among other nutrients. As an alternative to candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows (you’ll be eating dessert later!), try a savory version by roasting a pan full of sweet potato wedges with Brussel sprouts, onions, and herbs.
Cranberries: Cranberries are full of a variety of nutrients as well as the compound proanthocyanidin which helps prevent urinary tract infections. However, their naturally tart taste is inevitably remedied with lots of sugar. Instead of the canned variety, try sprinkling a few dried cranberries on a spinach salad with some chopped almonds and goat cheese. Dried cranberries still have sugar, but a small amount atop a bed of leafy greens will spare some of those sugar calories as well as increase your nutrient intake.
The bottom line: Don’t look at holiday meals as an obstacle to your goal of good health; look at them as an opportunity to eat a variety of nutrients, try out new recipes, and still taste the classic flavors you’ve always loved!
By Whitney Martin, Master of Public Health Student at Liberty University
Intern for Bon Secours Physical Therapy and Sports Performance
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