When it comes to Thanksgiving, you may think staying healthy and still enjoying your favorite comfort foods isn’t possible, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not only possible, it’s easy too. The secret is pretty simple: eat real foods and avoid the artificial. That’s it. That’s how you turn Thanksgiving from an unhealthy binge into a mostly healthy meal.
Keep It Real
The secret to eating healthy at any time of the year is to eat real food—food that’s not been processed or modified. Things like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats keep you feeling full and provide your body with the nourishment it needs. This means you’ll want to opt for real butter over margarine, fresh sweet potatoes over canned yams, and whole wheat bread over white.
In addition, here are some more tips to help you keep things real:
- Read the label; if you can’t pronounce it, don’t get it.
- Purchase organic; these foods are real and do not contain pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
- Buy your turkey local; commercial turkeys are kept inhumanely, fed antibiotics and supplements, and many are even injected with “natural flavorings,” including saline solutions and sodium phosphates.
- Cook from scratch; use fresh, unprocessed ingredients in your Thanksgiving dinner like real cranberry sauce, homemade whole wheat stuffing, mashed potatoes, and fresh mushrooms and green beans.
Avoid the Artificial
Just as eating real food keeps you healthy, it’s important to avoid artificial foods, too. Think of foods that are overly processed, include some sort of powder, or have a chemical composition. For example, here are some of the things you want to avoid:
- Low-fat foods
- Fat-free foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- Hydrogenated oils
- Anything labeled “diet”
This year, I want you to start a new Thanksgiving tradition, one that can set the stage for a year of healthy eating. All you have to do is keep it real.
- Stay active; instead of vegging out in front of the television, get outside with the family, go for a walk, or start a game of flag football.
- Make sure you drink plenty of water; staying hydrated keeps you full, making it less likely you’ll overeat.
- Use a smaller plate; it’s hard to control portions when you’re filling a plate that’s super-sized.
- Skip the seconds, or at least wait 20 minutes before refilling your plate to give your body the opportunity to become full.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself; Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, and it’s okay to enjoy yourself and some good, wholesome food.