The Gustavian Weekly

How to stay healthy this holiday

By The Weekly Staff | November 16, 2012 | Sports & Fitness

This Thanksgiving, make healthy choices about what you eat and how you exercise. <em>Blake Van Oosbree</em>

This Thanksgiving, make healthy choices about what you eat and how you exercise. Blake Van Oosbree

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year when you’re able to stuff your face with as much food as possible without being judged. As enjoyable as this sounds, the aftermath can be less than pleasing. For many people, the holiday season can pack on pounds. Mom’s casserole or Grandma’s stuffing may have been worth it at the time, but in the end it can be tough to bounce back from a food-filled day.

Eat a healthy breakfast and a substantial lunch. You want to prevent becoming hungry enough to overeat during the decadent meal.

Just because you can does not mean you should. Don’t take hefty portions, and be selective about what types of food you put on your plate. Sample small portions of your favorites and enjoy them without feeling guilty. Using a smaller plate will also limit your ability to “accidentally” take too much food.

Taking the healthier options from the table first and leaving a little space for small amounts of unhealthy food is also a good option. Going overboard on vegetables is not a bad thing but remember a disappointing fact: mashed potatoes do not count.

Substitute flavored and carbonated drinks with water. You can easily avoid hundreds of calories by doing so.

Eating whole foods such as unsalted nuts, veggies and fruit is a good way to steer away from the unhealthy options at the snack table.

Picking away at leftovers for lengthy periods of time can be a real problem. Be sure that all guests leave with a container of food to dwindle the temptation.

Look up healthier recipes that won’t take away from the awesomeness of your meal. The internet is chalk-full of delicious and healthy Thanksgiving tips and menus.

Modifying recipes can cut as much as 1,600 calories from that meal. There are alternatives for butter and your backside’s worst nightmare: shortening. Extra virgin olive oil, high-oleic safflower oil, organic canola oil or macadamia nut oil are great options. This should be kept in mind for the outside of the turkey, sautéing vegetables, enriching stuffing and baking pies.

To replace heavy cream in soups or sauces, use evaporated skim milk or cashew cream. To avoid food with the potential of giving family members and friends a heart attack, fat-free yogurt and sour cream can be used to make mashed potatoes, creamy dips, soups, sauces and more. Also, if a recipe calls for whole milk, using skim, soy or almond milk will work instead. Reduced-fat cheeses are also available. Surprisingly, fat-free ricotta and feta are tasty options.

Using whole grains and less white flour will benefit you and others in the long run. White flour has a surprising amount of calories and carbs. White whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour are great substitutions for baking breads and stuffing.

Be any vegans hero/heroine. Cook up some mean vegetarian entrees that even meat eaters will love. These dishes will have lower fat content.

To avoid extra saturated fat, don’t use unnecessarily fatty meats. Wrapping turkey in bacon and adding sausage to your stuffing is absurd, people!

Salt is one of the easiest ingredients to alter in a recipe. If someone wants more later on, it doesn’t take much effort to fix the issue. Use one third of the amount of salt used in a traditional recipe (not baking recipes). A recipe can be surprisingly satisfying even without the large amounts of salt. Using lemon in vegetables also adds flavor without using salt.

Don’t serve or eat processed foods. You’re better than that. Seriously. Processed foods are higher in salt, calories and unhealthy fats.

Pie is unavoidable, I know. And guess what? You deserve to eat that pie. To make up for splurging, reduce or eliminate sugar in other places such as sweet potatoes and cranberries.

Planning a Thanksgiving Day workout with friends and family is not only good for you, but will also serve as a cherished bonding experience. Playing sports such as football, baseball, soccer and many others are good ways to get in exercise that is fun for everyone before feasting.

A lot of organizations plan 5k runs around Thanksgiving. Not only is it an opportunity to burn off some calories, but the races usually are for a great cause as well.

Thanksgiving foods make it easy for anyone to lose self-control. To avoid eating tons of food, decide how much is too much before arriving at the dinner table. Tell yourself that for every serving over an acceptable amount, you’ll run half a mile or for ten minutes. You can create whatever punishment you want, but make sure you follow through. Telling people about it will make it more likely that you’ll stick with it.

Don’t get lazy the week of Thanksgiving. Keep yourself motivated to get in exercise before and after the holiday.

Take a post Thanksgiving meal walk. You will most likely be too full to run or do any other kind of rigorous exercise, but taking a walk will allow you to burn some calories.