Thanksgiving table with turkey and sides

Thinking of the traditional Thanksgiving and holiday dishes of turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potato casserole, green beans and pecan pie can make your mouth water! It’s food we look forward to and love to eat this time of year. And then comes January.

Research differs on the average amount the scale creeps up during the holidays. But one thing is for sure: the plentiful holiday delights, cold weather, and busyness of the season are a recipe for weight gain.

However, a few simple tips will help you enjoy your favorite seasonal foods while keeping your weight in check.

Eat regular meals. Treat Thanksgiving and other holidays like it’s a normal day. Don’t skip breakfast and hold out for the big meal. Instead, eat regular meals and don’t stuff yourself.

Cut down on leftovers. While it’s perfectly fine to enjoy the holiday foods you have once or twice a year, those favorite foods are often high in calories, and you may not want leftovers around. Cut recipes in half, and if you do end up with leftovers, consider freezing them for another meal on a different week.

Portion is the key.  Aim for the goal of sampling dishes, keeping portions to a couple of tablespoons instead of a full serving.  This way you can have a little bit of all your favorite dishes

Hide tempting food! Don’t store on the counter top. Place pies and cookies in containers in the pantry.

If hosting, assign some to bring lower calorie foods such as vegetable or fruit trays so guests are sure to have healthy alternatives.

Start a new tradition. Take a family walk or play a game of basketball after the big meal to start burning off some calories. Washing the dishes and Black Friday shopping can also burn calories!

Try a few simple swaps. Choosing sweet potatoes over a sweet potato casserole; a wheat roll instead of a biscuit, or fruit instead of a slice of pie can shave off calories while satisfying your cravings.

Don’t forget your veggies. Filling up on leafy greens can help keep you full and avoid a second pass at the dessert table.

Here’s a tasty recipe to try:

Tuscan Greens

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 diced yellow pepper
  • 6 oz baby spinach leaves
  • 6 oz vegetable broth (unsalted)
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano
  • 2 T Sherry vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions to oil and saute for about 3 minutes; add garlic, Italian seasonings, pepper flakes and yellow pepper; continue to season and additional 3 minutes.  Add spinach to pan; stir into onion mixture until all spinach pieces are wilted. Add tomatoes, vinegar and broth (to desired consistency.  Add bay leaf, vinegar and black pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer about 15 minutes.  Discard bay leaf.

Serving size: 1 cup Yield: 4 cups

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Article by: Beth A. Ackerman, R.D.

Beth Ackerman, R.D., is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator with the UofL Physicians – Diabetes and Obesity Center. Beth is on the team of educators of the ADA-approved diabetes education team at UofL Physicians. She has counseled people with diabetes for more than 25 years. Ackerman serves as the Diabetes Prevention Program Workgroup co-chair for the Kentucky Diabetes Network and volunteers at Camp Hendon, a diabetes camp for children.

All posts by Beth A. Ackerman, R.D.
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