We at Latina recently had a very lively discussion centered on one very complicated question: Is it ok to overindulge on Thanksgiving?
Some of us feel it's totally fine and others don't feel it's necessary. As someone who lost 100 pounds and works hard to keep it off, I'm part of the latter group. Although, yes, technically Thanksgiving Day only comes around once a year, I know the harsh reality of overindulging. Plus, there is always another cause to celebrate whether it be Christmas, New Year's or birthdays, so there is always another opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal.
Instead of using this day as an excuse to eat so much that you almost want to explode, there is an easy way to have your pumpkin pie and eat it, too -- without overdoing it. Here are 10 ways to cut calories during Thanksgiving without suffering:
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Skip the cheese plate, rolls & appetizers!
Whenever I go to any kind of Holiday gathering, there is always some sort of appetizer nearby. Whether it's a nice cheese board (can we say Manchego?), warm rolls that you're dying to butter pre-turkey or any other appetizer, there's absolutely no need to indulge before the big indulgence. Save on the calories and sip on some water instead. Or, if you must, munch on low-calorie veggies like baby carrots or celery sticks.
Cook with lower calories in mind.
When it comes to the actual cooking, there are a few things that you can do to cut calories. First of all, for any recipes using sugar, you can cut it by 1/3. You can substitute apple sauce or avocado instead of olive oil in baking recipes. You can opt for skim milk instead of whole milk. You can try reduced fat cheese. Last but not least, opt for cooking spray or coconut oil instead of butter.
Try a simple vinaigrette instead of salad dressing.
Many holiday salad recipes include dressings that are sure to pack on the pounds, leading you to add up calories without even realizing that those veggies you're eating are hurting you more than helping. Instead of mayo, Caesar dressing or any of the sort, try a simple vinaigrette. Just mix 3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar (such as apple cider), add a bit of salt and pepper, and you're set!
Divide your plate for portion control.
The absolute easiest way to cut calories is to control your portions. Here's the simplest way to do it: Divide your plate into one 1/2 and two 1/4s. Half of your plate should contain all of your veggies: green beans, Brussels sprouts, salad side, etc. A quarter of your plate will contain your starches, meaning your sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and even the stuffing. The other quarter of your plate will have the protein, meaning the turkey (and, let's face it, the pork if you're at a true Latino Thanksgiving).
Eat your vegetables first, and we mean the green ones!
Portion control your turkey=a palm size is 1 serving.
The thing about eating during Thanksgiving is that most people don't actually realize what a normal portion looks like. Here's a little hint: a regular serving of turkey is about 3-4 ounces, which you can measure by the size of your palm. That's right, 1 serving of turkey equals your palm. Instead of laying on way more than you should be eating, stick to this rule and you'll still be having your, ahem, turkey and eating it, too!
Remove the meat's skin before eating.
Other than portion-controlling your turkey, there's another big way to make it leaner: remove the skin! I know sometimes that crispy, buttery skin is hard to resist, but since there are very little nutrients and only fat in it, it's best to lay off. At most, allow yourself one small bite and chuck the rest. Stick to the lean, white turkey meat (meaning the turkey breast) and you'll be saving on calories and fat for sure.
Alternate between wine and water.
I know that if I actually suggested that you only have 1 glass of wine while dealing with all of those crazy family things that always come up, you might throw something at me. Instead, to help save on calories, stick to alternating between wine and water. For each glass of wine, have another glass of water in between. This way, you stay sober and don't overindulge on the calories from wine.
Have 1 smaller slice of pie, save the rest for later.
Who doesn't love dessert? I know I do! But here's something you probably didn't realize: nothing tastes as good as the first real bite of a delicious something. Instead of eating half the pie like I know we've all been tempted to do, cut the pie into smaller slices. Have just one of those smaller slices, then go to bed. Guess what? Tomorrow you'll still have pie and be able to have another small slice! You'll be saving calories and have leftovers. It's a win-win.
Take a walk with your family after the meal.
Okay, so now that you've saved a few calories during dinner, it's time to do the next thing: shave some calories off! Taking a walk after the meal with your family has two big advantages. One, you'll be burning off some of that turkey, stuffing and pie. Secondly, and this one is just as important, you'll be spending extra time with your family without a mouthful of sweet potatoes. This is a great time to talk and feel thankful. Plus, you'll love it when you wake up the next day without having gained 15 pounds overnight!