(Photo courtesy of fragrantvanillacake.blogspot.com)
For many, Thanksgiving is a time for reconnecting with family and reminiscing with friends and loved ones.
It’s also a time many will indulge in their favorite dishes. But unfortunately, this is also the day when most Americans pile on extra pounds.
Thankfully, this year can be different.
The Centers for Disease Control has reported that blacks develop high blood pressure more often and at an earlier age than other ethnic groups — thus increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke.
When it comes to diabetes, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health reports blacks are twice as likely to be diagnosed and suffer complications from the disease.
So please your palette this Thanksgiving without being detrimental to your health. Avoid the guilt and the weight gain that come from eating with your eyes, not your stomach.
Fight the urge to taste everything on the table. And when the temptation gets too daunting, let these three tips guide you down the path to a healthier holiday:
When fixing your first plate, don’t try to fit everything on it. Remember, servings should be no bigger than the palm of your hand.
“Limit your intake by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with proteins or turkey in this case, and a quarter of starch, so bread, pasta or rice,” says Maggie Dylewski, Ph.D. and owner of MD Nutrition Consultants. “Go easy on creamy and cheesy casseroles.”
Fried turkey would be a no-no, she adds. Get just enough so you can taste your favorite foods but save some for those coming behind you.
Don’t eat your fill, especially if you plan on having dessert.
When satisfying your sweet tooth don’t forget that sugary treats and starches do more harm than good. They also boost your calorie count both quickly and unapologetically.
“During the holidays people enjoy lots of drinks: mixed drinks, beer, juice, eggnog and so on,” adds Dylewski. “I think people forget that these sweets also have a ton of calories. Say you have a daiquiri or margarita, those easily have up to 500 calories.” When it comes to desserts pumpkin pie, pecan and cheesecake pack the most punch. “I think everyone wants to have some of their favorite desserts, and as long as you have a small sliver, that’s fine.”
The emphasis, here, is on the word “small.”
Eat slowly when enjoying your holiday feast.
Its about savoring, not racing to see who can finish first. Slowing down also prevents overeating.
“It takes about 10-15 minutes for our bellies to tell our brains we’re eating,” Dylewski explains. “In that lapse of time is where overindulging happens so easily.”
Give your food time to digest before making a second round. If you really want to be healthy, skip seconds altogether and make a plate to take home. If you’re looking for ways to be active, here is one suggestion — actively place your utensils down and enjoy a nice family walk after dinner (weather permitting) or play a Wii game, Dylewski says.
Complete your healthy holiday by reducing the amount of stuffing and mashed potatoes you have, as these are two of the most deadly sides. Opt for skinless, white meat over dark meat with skin as these foods have the most calories, according to Dylewski.
Above all, in those moments of weakness, remember that different results don’t come from doing things the same way. In just one day you can make a monumental difference in your overall well-being.
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