Health and Safety: Holiday dinner doesn’t have to be unhealthy

I can smell it already. The stuffing. The creamy mashed potatoes. The mouthwatering turkey and cranberry sauce. The freshly toasted rolls and the pumpkin pie that seem to melt in your mouth. And I can smell the thousands of calories, the cholesterol, the carbohydrates and the sugar. But Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. There are several ways to tune up your meal nutritionally while keeping it tasty.

For starters, don’t go to dinner hungry. More than likely if you go to dinner on an empty stomach, you will end up eating faster and eating more. Eat a wholesome and nutritious breakfast and lunch earlier in the day. Don’t make the mistake of “saving” all of your calories for that night’s dinner.

Eat slowly. Don’t get to the point where you feel like mashed potatoes are about to ooze out of your ears. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to register that you’re full, so take your time. Come up for air. Although it might be satisfying while you’re wolfing down Grammie’s homemade apple pie, you’ll more than likely regret it after the food settles.

Don’t forget your greens. Often our plates accumulate a piece or two of turkey and the rest is a starch-fest. Instead of going heavy on the potatoes and carbohydrates, try to fill half of your plate with vegetables, one quarter with lean meat and the rest with your starch of choice. Also, go skinless. Opt to eat your turkey without the fatty layer of skin around it. This is an easy way to shave off unneeded cholesterol and fat.

After eating, walk it off. Don’t be tempted to lie down after you finish your meal. Instead, go for a slow-paced stroll around the neighborhood until your food settles. Get plenty of exercise over the break and remember to stay hydrated. Alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate your body. Beware of soft drinks. Try to stick to water as your beverage of choice for the evening. Water will also help you to feel full.

It’s simple; make healthy choices. Turkey is a good source of protein. Choose the white meat over the dark, which holds nearly double the amount of fat. Try to choose whole-grain breads when possible. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A. Fortunately, many of the foods that are traditionally served for Thanksgiving dinner are, in some way, healthy. Just don’t overdo it. Remember, everything in moderation. Cut out the high-calorie foods that you can eat on any ordinary day, and instead, indulge in the foods that are only available during the holiday season. Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be an event with fearful outcomes. A delicious, wholesome dinner only takes a little self-control and planning.

-Amanda Sandlin,

Junior journalism major

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