According to the Calorie Control Council (CCC), a single holiday meal can contain nearly 4,500 calories and 220 grams of fat. Here are a few Thanksgiving staples that people may want to avoid, and tips for practicing healthy eating habits during the holiday season.
Hors d’oeuvres can be hidden hazards
According to ABC News, the hors d’oeuvre “pigs in a blanket” contain nearly 66 calories each. The mini hot dogs wrapped in pastry are also laden with saturated fats and carcinogenic nitrates. Another unhealthy appetizer that can pack on the pounds is chips and dip due to their hundred-plus calories per serving and large amount of hydrogenated fats. The source recommends indulging in baby carrots and red peppers instead.
Sinful side dishes
ABC News reported that bread stuffing contains nearly 178 calories per cup. Many stuffing recipes also incorporate sausage into the dish, which not only adds nearly 100 extra calories per cup, but also additional fat.
Raw sweet potatoes are usually packed with vitamin A, vitamin B6, dietary fiber and potassium, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to the ABC News, many times they undergo unhealthy preparation methods, which include added butter, sugar and high baking temperatures. The news source suggested eating mashed potatoes instead, which only contain 118 calories per serving and 50 percent less calories.
Turkey’s a treat – just skip the dark meat
The dark meat in the turkey contains nearly 200 calories per serving and has high levels of saturated fat. ABC recommended peeling the skin off of the meat, or eating the breast and other light-colored meat instead, which has nearly 90 less calories per serving than dark meat.
If Thanksgiving-goers are going to indulge in dessert, the source noted that they should opt for pumpkin pie, which has 350 calories (including a scoop of whipped cream) instead of pecan or apple pie, which have nearly 780 and 415 calories, respectively.
Controlling eating habits
The CCC reports that stress from interacting with family members and preparing Thanksgiving meals can contribute to overeating during the holiday season. In order to control stress, the Mayo Clinic recommends first identifying the triggers that cause tension and then thinking of ways to cope with it. These include avoiding stress-inducers and engaging in relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation.
The CCC also recommends eating proper-sized portions. The stomach is only the size of about two fists put together, and many people don’t realize their portions are too big until they’ve eaten too much. According to the source, the proper serving size of turkey should only be about 3 ounces, or the size of a deck of cards, while mashed potatoes and stuffing portions should be about the size of a computer mouse.
Another way to avoid overeating during holiday meals is to eat a good breakfast. The CCC suggests a meal that has food that’s high in protein and fiber, such as whole-wheat toast and whole-grain cereal. This may help reduce cravings during the main meal and allow for smarter eating habits.
Planning ahead is another good way to avoid unhealthy choices at the dinner table. The source recommends people think of healthy ingredient replacements. If someone plans on eating something that’s loaded with sugar or fat, he or she should attempt to cut back on another food to create a balance.
Omega-3 fatty acids may also be beneficial. According to the University of Maryland, the nutrient has been shown to be effective in lowering “HDL” or bad cholesterol, which is abundant in meat and dairy products. Omega-3s can also help keep blood pressure under control. The source reports that clinical studies suggest that the fatty acids are effective in reducing the risk of heart disease and they can even help control diabetes. Omega-3s can be found in chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp milk and an Omegakrill supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.