Holiday Stress, Holiday Health

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By Margaret Lewin

Thanksgiving can be one of the most joyous holidays of the year, but it can add tremendous stress, not to mention a ton of calories, to your already stressful (and calorie-laden) life if you don’t prepare ahead.

To avoid being one of the average Americans who consumes an extra 600 calories daily between Thanksgiving and New Year ’s Day (that is over 6 extra pounds), here are some tips for avoiding the stress and extra pounds without losing the holiday spirit:

How to be the Hostess with the Mostess:

Plan Ahead

The Menu – Think Thin: Remember, there is always a way to make it healthier!

  • The turkey: consider using fruits or vegetables to moisten the stuffing – instead of butter or other fats; use complimentary seasoning
  • The gravy: plan to serve the turkey au jus – while the turkey is resting, pour the fat out of the roaster, and deglaze the remaining natural juices with white (or red) wine
  • For before-dinner nibbles: serve cut-up vegetables with low-fat dips
  • Sweet potatoes: forget the marshmallows. Instead, layer sliced potatoes with sliced apples and bits of brown sugar and a heart-healthy margarine
  • Serve a good salad (low-fat dressing on the side) and several vegetables instead of the assorted carbs
  • If white potatoes are essential to your menu, bake them and serve with fat-free sour cream and chopped chives
  • Cook the cranberries with sweet fruits (such as pears) to cut way back on the sugar
  • Concentrate on fruit-based, low-fat desserts such as angel food cake layered with lightly-microwaved fruit and served in pretty glasses

The Preparation: Having MORE than enough time is the key

  • Clean out the refrigerator and freezer the weekend before the feast so you have plenty of room to organize carefully
  • Complete a detailed shopping list, working from the recipes on the menu
  • Buy non-perishables (such as canned pumpkin and condiments) well in advance, storing them together so they’re easy to find
  • If you’re planning special items such as a fresh turkey or ham, order it in advance, arranging to pick it up or have it delivered a day ahead if possible
  • Working backwards, calculate when you’ll have to start preparing each item, how to organize oven temperatures and burner space, and make a careful check-off list to keep in front of you as you prepare the meal.
  • Set the table in advance, working from your menu to lay out serving bowls and serving implements
  • Plan distractions and games for young children to keep them out of the kitchen
  • Make sure your schedule allows at least 20 minutes for you to have a small snack and a relaxing cup of chamomile tea before your guests arrive!

The Execution: Delegate, Delegate, Delegate! Few people really like to be guests; often they’ll feel important if they can take an active part…

Healthy Habits … Wherever You Are: Whether you’re the guest or the hostess, avoid over-indulgence during the festivities

  • Eat a light snack an hour or so before the party so the hors d’oeurves aren’t so tempting
  • Start your dinner with generous portions of the healthiest and least fattening foods; eat slowly; once your appetite has been sated, reach for small portions of the more calorie-laden choices if you MUST
  • Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per hour, “making-do” with low-calorie such as soda water with a splash of cranberry juice throughout the evening

So... plan ahead, think thin, hold on to those healthy habits and... most importantly… Enjoy the Holiday!

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