By: Sue Pasqual
So many people stuff the turkey and, before they know it, have stuffed themselves to the brim, too! This time of year is often when many of us over-indulge to the point of adding 5-10 pounds to our frame, but that doesn’t have to be the case. What if we told you that you could enjoy a few indulgences in a way that fits into your healthy, TLS® Lifestyle (hello, TLS® FLEX!) without leaving you with added inches? These smart tips to cut Thanksgiving calories are just what you need!
Keep Long-Term Goals In Mind
A few pounds here and there doesn’t sound like too much, especially when you’re considering the fact it allowed you your favorite Thanksgiving foods! But what if those pounds never came off? In 5 years that’s an extra 25-50 excess pounds, and haven’t you worked all year to get + keep those pounds off?
When you’re approaching the table, remember why you’re trying to cut Thanksgiving calories. Are those long hours at the gym, the sacrifice you’ve made, and the year-long laser focus on your goals worth throwing out the window for a third helping of the same pie you’ll have next year? Take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself of your ultimate vision!
Limit Indulgences to Thanksgiving Day
Most people indulge during Thanksgiving dinner and, honestly, that’s okay if you’re keeping moderation in mind. The larger problem lies in the food choices leading up to that Thanksgiving + how you handle the leftovers afterward! Be honest, who has eaten a piece of pumpkin pie for breakfast the following day?
We allow those mindless eating days to pile up, and that’s not entirely your fault. People bring candy and goodies into the office for weeks before + after Turkey Day, family members send you home with leftovers, and those candy dishes are everywhere! That being said, the choice to limit your indulgences to Thanksgiving day is ultimately up to you but it’s much easier to allow yourself a day before hopping back into your routine than allowing yourself a week (or more!) + needing to re-learn all of your healthy habits!
Say “No” to Leftovers
It’s easier to avoid foods that aren’t staring you in the face, right? So, just don’t take food home with you that could tempt you to stray from your healthy habits! If you host, send all the leftovers home with other people + save the room in your fridge. Just be sure to have disposable containers they can just take with them! If you visit someone else’s home for the holiday, it’s as easy as kindly refusing any leftovers. It may feel rude, but this is about you and your goals which friends + family will totally understand!
Use Healthier Recipes
Whether it’s cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, potato casserole, or the stuffing, there are always healthier recipes out there to try! No matter what your Uncle says, veggies don’t all taste like cardboard – they’re actually delicious, especially when you get a little creative with herbs + spices!
If you’re hooked on stuffing, simply try cutting Thanksgiving calories by making it with whole ingredients. Staying away from the processed box stuffing mixes will save you hundreds of calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats (plus, you get the satisfaction of making everyone’s favorite dish from scratch)! There are so many delicious whole food stuffing recipes around, like this favorite from 40 Aprons:
- 2 tablespoons ghee or avocado oil or refined coconut oil
- 3 cups onion diced
- 2 cups celery diced
- 1 cup mushrooms diced
- 1 cup apple cored and diced
- ¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley chopped
- 4 teaspoons poultry seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups almond flour
- 3 eggs, whisked
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Heat oil in a large cast-iron or skillet over medium heat.
- Add onion, celery, apple, mushrooms, cranberries or dates, parsley, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper + sauté until very soft (about 7 minutes).
- Remove from heat, then transfer to 9×9″ baking dish.
- Stir in almond flour + whisked eggs, then bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until browned.
Grab Small Samples of Everything
It is ok to sample a little of your favorite things…but remember serving sizes add up quickly, especially when you’re dealing with calorie-dense foods! You don’t need 2 cups of stuffing or a literal mountain of potatoes on your plate, right? Often the best bites are the first three, after which your body becomes accustomed to the taste.
Considering serving sizes + flavor overload, we love the 3-Bite Rule for times like this when you want everything in sight! Rather than loading up on heaps of one or two things + feeling like you “can’t touch” the others, you can cut Thanksgiving calories by filling your plate with a few bites of everything you’ve been looking forward to! This will help get you the foods you love without feeling deprived which could keep you from going back for more.
Swap a Cocktail for Water
Spirits are pretty much useless, nutritionally. Even wine, despite its resveratrol + antioxidants, is high enough in sugar and often consumed in large enough quantities to take away from its benefits! Not to mention, the lowered inhibitions and impact on decision making can leave you more vulnerable to cravings + less able to step away once you’ve had enough.
While abstaining from booze entirely is one of the best ways to cut Thanksgiving calories, it may not be your idea of a fun Thanksgiving celebration! So, simply swap one cocktail for water during your Thanksgiving dinner. This will help you save calories while also helping you avoid the dehydration + sugar that can cause a hangover the next day!
Don’t “Save Calories”
If you’re trying to cut Thanksgiving calories, you might be considering skipping breakfast to “save up” for the big meal – don’t. Eating like you normally would allows you to face the plethora of food without hunger brain going into overdrive. That’s a recipe for one massive binge!
Instead, start the day with a healthy + filling breakfast filled with whole foods that are easy on your digestive system. Load up on cooked veggies, easy-to-digest proteins, and plenty of water for a great kickstart to lead you into a healthy night.
Sometimes the best way to cut Thanksgiving calories is through moving your body! There are plenty of Turkey Trots around the U.S. on Turkey Day, and your family might love the idea of jumping in (even if it’s just for the free t-shirt + the race swag)! There may also be local fitness groups or classes for free, so it’s worth it to check!
Just be sure to fit fitness in somewhere that day, and even the day after! Especially if you are hosting, you deserve to find 30 minutes to yourself. Exercise will help you feel better, relieve stress, and leave you less likely to indulge, but if you do then at least you burned off some calories.
There are plenty of ways to cut Thanksgiving calories, but the most important thing is enjoying your day in a way that is healthy + leaves you feeling great!
Happy Thanksgiving from TLS®!