When I think about Thanksgiving, I focus on family, gratitude, and a day of togetherness with the house emanating with aromas of childhood recipes that bring me back to tradition and love. But…the little voices in my brain think about tight pants, feeling like a slug, weight gain, and of course, the next day’s workout (that I really don’t want to do!)
Everything smells so good…and the calorie-filled fixings and desserts are really what I want to eat…. the stuffing, the added gravy, the creamy dips, and the homemade cheesecake. These alone will add over 1000 calories to my favorite meal.
Instead of feeling guilty, simply be mindful. Enjoy the foods you love, but watch the portion sizes, look for healthier options, and simply be present with family and friends.
Here are my 7 simple tips so you can “have your cake and eat it too.”
- Make sure you have a HIGH PROTEIN breakfast in the morning. My favorite go-to is a delicious plant based protein shake or Greek plain yogurt with fresh fruit and a few walnuts. Research shows that pacing your protein can impact your fullness, and may help your brain stop you from over-indulging on the sweet treats.
- EXERCISE and stay active. Make it a family tradition to go on a hike, walk or even a dance contest before the big meal. Go for a quick work out in the morning just to get the body burning calories. Rev up your body with a little strength training…want to get those calories to your muscles instead of your fat cells.
- APPETIZERS: You know you have a big meal coming, but here come the dips, the chips, the meatballs, the cheeses. What to do? My big trick is to use a small plate, don’t overfill it, and prioritize your favorites. Bring shrimp with cocktail sauce, fruit or veggies, or my amazing Spinach and Artichoke Dip (delicious and healthier version!).
- FIRST COURSE: Start off your meal with a non-cream based soup. My favorite is my sister Laurey’s butternut squash and apple soup…no cream, lots of fiber and lots of flavor. Plus it will keep you full before the other courses. And it’s so pretty too! (And less than 100 calories!!)
- MAIN MEAL: When it’s finally time to dig into the main meal, watch your side dish portions, sauces and look at the ingredients. Make a stuffing that has a whole grain base and put in lots of veggies! As for gravy , you can actually use plain yogurt to keep it thick! No flour needed!
- VEGGIES: Stick to the green ones, and the simple recipes. Roasted Brussels sprouts are my favorites as are salad or green beans. If they are filled with thick sauces, look for the “plainer” ones.
- DESSERT: Everyone should have dessert on Thanksgiving! But it’s all about portion control and mindfulness. Like pumpkin pie? Have a small slice. Making dessert? Make some single serve desserts, like cookies, or minis. My favorite dessert is my Cheesecake Minis, that are only 100 calories and so delicious. Just think…A typical slice of cheesecake has 540 calories. You can enjoy that same New York style indulgence and even have a second “taste” of the pie!
My last tip? Be grateful! May this annual tradition continue to provide you with love, laughs, wonderful memories with family and friends, and a day to just “be” ( and FOMO free!) around the dining room table. Enjoy!
Editor’s Note: We will be featuring six days of Mona’s healthy Thanksgiving recipes beginning today. Please check back on the site every day for her amazing creations that you can replicate for your holiday dinners.
Nutritionist, cookbook author, publisher and health and wellness entrepreneur Mona Dolgov lives her lifelong mission of creating healthier food products, recipes and inventing simple culinary tricks to easily create practical and healthier lifestyles. She is President of You Live Right, LLC, where she has authored and published over 20 cookbooks for top-selling kitchen appliances, health and wellness products and grocery retailers, focused on simplicity and using nutritious ingredients. She also is a private nutritional coach, offers educational and fun dinner classes at Mona’s Kitchen, and is a speaker on nutritional well-being. Plus, she is very excited about launching Cook U. Follow Mona on Facebook or Instagram @monadolgov
She recently co-authored The Perfect Portion Cookbook, a 5-star rated cookbook (with Hollywood star Anson Willams) that makes American classics healthier and guides consumers to healthier portion control. This book (and Mona) was featured on the Today Show, The Doctors, and The Huffington Post. Learn more at www.theperfectportion.com
She is completing her second cookbook, Satisfy, that will be launched in 2020, focused on simple nutritionally balanced meals all 500 calories or less with real ingredients and real portions. All of the recipes are gluten-free.