Nutrition Articles

It's Almost Turkey Time! Enjoy America's Favorite Meal without Getting Stuffed

Turkey and all the trimmings...the Thanksgiving meal is arguably America's favorite feast and a time to relish many traditional dishes.

But no one wants to push back from the table feeling unpleasantly full. So, before you gobble up everything in sight, try these tips to enjoy the meal without getting stuffed.

Start the day the right way. Don't attempt to "bank" calories by fasting until the big meal. This tactic could backfire if you get so hungry that you end up eating even more than usual later in the day. Instead, eat lighter meals at your regular times and work in a walk or workout, too.

Carve calories but keep great taste. Some traditional dishes should never be tampered with, but you can lighten up many recipes without sacrificing flavor. For example, reduced-fat sour cream and cream cheese are fine substitutes for regular versions. Also, try fat-free evaporated milk in your pumpkin pie filling and fat-free half & half in your coffee.

Nix pre-meal munchies. Steer clear of cheese and crackers, nuts, chips, pretzels and other nibbles or you could rack up several hundred calories before the main event. Besides, you can enjoy these foods any time of year. If you must munch, go for raw veggies without the dip.

Slice portions. The Thanksgiving meal can feature a dozen different foods—many more than a typical dinner. Rather than loading your plate with full portions, start with half the usual amount. You can always get seconds in the (unlikely) event that you're still hungry.

Focus on favorites. If you really don't like candied sweet potatoes, cranberry gelatin mold or mincemeat pie, skip them. Instead, stick with special foods you truly love, such as your favorite turkey stuffing or a unique dessert.

Lighten up on the rich stuff. Put gravy on the side rather than blanketing your food. Forgo buttering your roll, or use a small amount. Ask for just a tiny dollop of whipped cream on your slender slice of pie.

Savor the flavor, family and friends. Slow down and really taste each bite. If you eat more slowly, you might be satisfied with less food. Make the company of family and friends the main focus of the meal.

Remember, there's always tomorrow (and the next day). It's tempting to eat too much of foods you only get once a year, but there are usually plenty of leftovers to enjoy for days to come.