Tips for a thinner Thanksgiving

turkeyHappy Thanksgiving Weekend, Canada! Below are a few tips for an enjoyable and healthier Thanksgiving.

1) Are there any foods we should avoid during the festive season?
As a general guideline, foods that are deep fried, batter-coated, starchy (such as breads, pasta, rice, potatoes) or drenched in a cream sauce or gravy should be avoided. Not only do these foods fill you up quicker but they are also packed with calories. Foods deep fried or with a crispy batter contain trans fats, which are detrimental to your health. 
pumpkin pie2) So if we do want some pumpkin pie, carrot and ginger cake or rich roast meats with gravy, what would be a reasonable portion?

With anything high in sugar or calories, always start with mini “tasting” portions first. If something was divinely delicious, then have a second larger portion, but limit the bigger portion to a palm size for the main dish (like roast beef) or 1/2 a palm size for desserts. For example, if after tasting the bite-sized pumpkin pie, you want more, have a serving the size of half your palm.

3) If we’re at the buffet, what foods should we eat first?

I recommend starting at the salad bar and loading up on fresh vegetables first (since breads, rice, pasta, potatoes, deep-fried foods and creamy soups will quickly make you full). Skip the creamy dressing and opt for a lighter one, such as balsamic vinegar. If you don’t like salads, then peruse the buffet aisles for cooked vegetables. Eating vegetables first will ensure that you leave the buffet (somewhat) healthier.

4) Any tips for alcohol consumption? It’s easy to go overboard amidst the festivities, so how much is OK and what types of alcoholic drinks are acceptable?

At the end of the day, our body treats alcohol as a toxin. It is only able to process so much at a given time. Furthermore, 1 gram of alcohol gives 7 calories (compare this to 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate). So, in the quest for “healthy” alcoholic drinks, I look at the nutritional benefits and/ or calories of a particular drink. For example, if you’re looking for a drink with nutrient value, try a glass of red wine. Not only does it contain potassium, iron and magnesium but it is also packed with resveratrol, an antioxidant with a potential to reduce blood clots and lower bad cholesterol. Note that a 5 ounce glass of red wine gives around 120 calories. Sangria made with red wine and antioxidant-rich fruits is also a healthy choice. Looking for a “healthier” beer? Made with more whole grains than lager, a Guinness is also full of nutrients, making it the beer of choice. If you prefer a drink with fewer calories, go for the gin or vodka and tonic or a whiskey on the rocks. With all alcoholic drinks, my advice is take your time slowly to enjoy- sip… sip… sip!

5) What would an ideal holiday plate look like?
An ideal holiday plate would be around 50% vegetables or salad, 25% turkey or other protein and 25% carbs (preferably a healthy carb choice like herbed quinoa or brown rice). If you must have stuffing or if you want an extra serving of dessert, skip the carbs (25% mentioned above) altogether.  

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