9 Things to Know Before Eating Thanksgiving Dinner

By: Jamie Webber

If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday (or celebrating any large meals during the upcoming holiday season), you might want to listen up.  On “The Today Show”, Dr. Brian Wansink, who is also one of our experts in Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2, goes behind the scenes of a family’s Thanksgiving meal to find out just how many calories they are really eating. It’s shocking. One of the most interesting points Dr. Wansink makes is how many calories were consumed BEFORE the actual meal even started — the family featured in the segment was eating while food was still being cooked, taste-testing, and drinking wine.  You have to watch the clip to get the full understanding, it’s quite eyeopening.

Watch it here.

Hearing from Dr. Wansink this morning made me think that there are a few more easy tips we should all be cognizant of this holiday season — tips that still allow you to enjoy yourself but remind you of making small changes that can add up to a healthier holiday season.

To gather helpful tips I reached out to our Reboot nutritionists Stacy Kennedy and Isabel Smith to give me their most helpful pointers for having a healthy Thanksgiving.

Reboot Nutritionist Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN shares simple tips to help you make small healthy changes.

1. Don’t Eat Too Much Too Soon
Research suggests, like you see from the Dr. Wansink clip on the Today Show, we can consume as many as 1200+ calories before we even sit down to eat our Thanksgiving meal. To avoid this, be mindful of how much you eat before you sit down to the meal – that includes appetizers, taste-testing, and drinking. Have a bowl of raw carrots in the kitchen and save all your taste-testing for when you sit down to enjoy a beautiful meal, and if you’re enjoying wine try to stick to one glass before the dinner actually starts.

2. Don’t Be Scared of the “V” Word (We’re Talking Vegetables)
The V word at Thanksgiving shouldn’t scare you away. There are so many delicious vegetable-based meals that are full of flavor, color, and texture that make a nice hearty addition to your meal. Think Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes, a Kale Salad with Pine Nuts & Cranberries, and Exotic Squash, Carrot & Apple Soup.  If you load your plate with 50% vegetables, while still allowing for some of your classic favorites to fit on the plate, you may be saving yourself hundreds of calories. What if nobody brings or makes vegetables or salad?No problem, offer to bring something that you’ll love to eat and know is healthy.

3. Skip the Seconds
Yes, we know many of you love to go back for seconds or thirds or fourths (we do, too), but do your best to take what you really want the first round to avoid going back up for more platefuls of food. Those extra platefuls of food can leave you feeling guilty and overloaded later– all of which are unnecessary negative feelings; so do your best to savor your plate the first time around. If you do end up going back for seconds because the food is just too good, aim for small servings because all you probably want is one more taste anyway!

4. Drink More
No, not wine, water! Although, if you plan to enjoy (or two) a glass of wine it’s important to drink a glass of water in between each glass so you don’t find yourself four glasses in midway through dinner. Being mindful of not only what you drink but how much could save you hundreds of calories. Drinking adequate water throughout the meal can also help you feel satisfied sooner. We often mistake thirst for hunger, so make sure you drink enough fluids throughout the day to not only help keep you hydrated, but also to save you calories.

5. Sign Up for the Turkey Trot 
If the you go up for fourths, you drink a bottle of wine and you pass on the veggies and that 3,500 calorie Thanksgiving meal happens, you might want to get up and move to start burning some of it off! Here’s how long would it take to burn 3.500 calories.

  • 6 hours at 5 mph on a treadmill
  • 5 hours of swimming
  • 8-9 hours of cycling

Once you remind yourself of these simple tips, consider these healthy swaps that Reboot Nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN suggests:

6. Skip the Cranberry Sauce
It’s easy to just purchase cranberry sauce at the grocery store in a can but so often these cans are not BPA-free and the added ingredients are high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and sugar. Instead of this processed, canned side try making your own cranberry sauce, like this one from the Food Babe, or get creative and wow your guests with delicious sides made with fresh cranberries. Cranberries are naturally rich in antioxidants and other cancer fighting phytonutrients so take advantage of their goodness by making one of these: <a “href=”http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/vegan-spinach-cranberry-stuffed-acorn-squash/”>Vegan Cranberry and Spinach Stuffed Acorn Squash, <a ” href=”http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/smart-sweet-vegan-apple-cranberry-barley-pudding/”>Vegan Apple Cranberry Barley PuddingChopped Cranberry ‘N Collards Salad.

7. Go Easy on the Gravy
If you can’t resist your Mom’s gravy, then go easy on the serving size — think no more than 1 tablespoon. You can also bring your own plant-powered gravy, like this Gravy Recipe from Whole Foods, to impress your family with a healthier, but still tasty, option.

8. You Don’t Need Cream for Creamed Spinach
This may come as a surprise, but this Guilt-Free Creamless “Creamed” Spinach Recipe might be a new favorite at your table this year.  Making this will help you pass on the heavy cream and butter that’s in this classic “vegetable” dish.

9. Mix and Match a Mashed Potato Recipe
There are lots of ways to recreate this traditional dish. Avoid adding tons of cream, butter sour cream and instead check out these bright and vibrant options like Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Garlic Cauliflower  Mash, and Smashed Purple Potatoes. Wondering if sweet or white are better… you may be surprised!

The Reboot Team wishes you and your family a happy, healthy, and fun Thanksgiving holiday!

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Jamie Webber

Jamie is the Editorial Content Manager at Reboot. As a Certified Holistic Health Coach, she is passionate about a healthy lifestyle and encouraging others to live happy and healthy by consuming more fruits and vegetables. She was one of the first members to join the Reboot community and has been juicing ever since. Jamie uses her juicer and blender everyday and loves experimenting with new recipes, especially guilt-free sweets to fulfill her sweet tooth. Follow her on twitter @JamiesHealthTip.

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