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:
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 seasonings
- 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 backward, 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'oeuvres 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 just as the icing on the cake
- Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per hour, making do with low-calorie options 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!