It is finally holiday season and if you’re anything like me, then you’re excited about all the amazing food that comes along with it! As a dietitian, I am usually asked how to make this season a little easier on the waistline. Below are the top tips and tricks that I’ve found are easiest to implement.
- Make at least half of your side dishes vegetable based – There are definitely a few thanksgiving side dish staples like stuffing and corn bread. If you want to make a more nutritious impact when planning out your menu, make sure at least half of the side dishes you’re serving are vegetable based. Yes, this includes that sweet potato casserole! But also include non-starch-based vegetables like lemon garlic broccoli and zucchini and yellow squash salad. Try to “color your plate” and have different colored fruits and vegetables, as the different colors provide different phytochemicals that keep your body healthy!
- Add in some not-so-hidden veggies – Certain dishes lend themselves really well to adding some “hidden” veggies in the mix. These recipes are ones like cauliflower mashed potato (mashed potatoes with chopped cauliflower mixed in), or broccoli mac and cheese. These dishes have the vegetable in the name so it’s not a surprise to your guests, and they have the added benefits of elevated flavor as well as extra vitamins and minerals!
- Keep plates and serving utensils small – While Thanksgiving is known as the one day a year we can let loose and eat everything on our plates, keeping those plates small will go a long way in preventing over-eating. When we use small plates, it makes us mindful of exactly what we choose to put on the limited real estate space. We’ll be more careful about choosing the foods we’re really looking forward to, as well as serving smaller portions to make room for everything. To make sure those serving sizes are small too, use smaller serving utensils. Of course, everyone is welcome to go back for seconds (or thirds!) if they’re still hungry. But usually the act of getting up and serving another plate makes us more aware of exactly how much we’re eating and can often cause us to reconsider.
- Add other activities to your day besides eating – Staying healthy is about so much more than just eating nutritiously. This holiday is probably one of the few times a year you get to see all your family members. Make it more special by doing extra activities to help build memories together. Some families like to get physically active and play a game of touch football or hide and seek with the kids. That’s a great way to keep moving as well as have fun! There’s plenty of indoor activities to do together as well. Make decorations to put around the table, draw and color hand-made cards that say what each person is grateful for, sing and dance to your favorite holiday songs… the list is endless! These types of activities are great for the body as well as the soul. They help build relationships and relieve stress.
Here are some plant-forward recipe ideas from Feed Your Potential 365 for nutritious sides to add to your Thanksgiving menu.
- Roasted Beet, Orange, and Arugula Salad
- Maple Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Whole Wheat Cranberry Walnut Bread
If you have any ideas that you and your family use to stay healthy during the holidays, please share them in the comments!
As always, I’m available for free consultations to all students and staff who have a USF Dining meal plan.