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Overwhelmed by Thanksgiving Leftovers? Here’s How to Stay Healthy After the Holiday

November 23, 2017

Did you know the average person gains one to two pounds during the holidays?

Turkey season is upon us, which means many us will be overloading our plates with turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and all the fixings. But once Thanksgiving Day passes, what do you do with all those leftovers? You may be tempted to simply refill your plate with everything you had during the holiday, but there are a few ways you can repurpose your Thanksgiving meal into healthier dishes, and other ways you can avoid holiday weight gain. Here are a few of them.

Start with a Healthier Thanksgiving

You won’t be tempted to indulge on the holiday and the days after if you start out with healthier choices. Instead of mac and cheese, butter-filled mashed potatoes, candied yams, dinner rolls and desserts, fill your Thanksgiving menu with delicious, good-for-you roasted veggies, flavorful soups and stick to healthiest part of the turkey — the breast, without the skin. If you do indulge a little, consider swapping out some ingredients in your Thanksgiving recipes. For example, use low-fat cheese, low-fat milk and cauliflower in your mac and cheese, roast potatoes in olive oil or opt for sweet potatoes instead rel="noopener noreferrer" of white potatoes. You can also make your own cranberry sauce so you can control the amount of added sugar rather than using a canned, pre-made version

Practice Portion Control

Thanksgiving is all about the spread, but all of that abundance can lead us to overindulge. One of the best ways to cut calories is to control your portions, especially with alcohol and dessert. Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and grab a smaller plate to trick yourself into eating less. Be sure to drink water throughout your meal, make that slice of pie a little smaller than you normally would and take your time to eat, which will give your brain adequate time to signal to your stomach that you’re full. You should also avoid sugary cocktails made with juices or soda and opt for a 5 oz. glass of wine instead, preferably a drier red wine.

Consider a Post-Holiday Workout

Working out is probably the last thing you want to do after eating a heavy meal, but exercising the day after Thanksgiving can help you get back into your routine or kick start healthier habits.

Your workout doesn’t have to be strenuous, either. Go for a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood, participate in a volunteer activity the day after Thanksgiving or go for a quick bike ride. Many communities also have charity races or Turkey Trot runs the morning of the holiday, so getting exercise in early could give you more incentive to not overdo it later in the day. Start your day off well, and don’t forget to have a healthy, balanced breakfast.

Make Way for Healthier Leftovers

The day after Thanksgiving, your fridge is probably filled with more turkey than you know what to do with. Rather than just repurpose all that meat into the obligatory turkey soup or turkey sandwich, get creative. rel="noopener noreferrer" Consider preparing healthy, tasty dishes like crispy turkey tostadas, Moroccan chicken salad (use turkey instead of chicken), turkey & leek shepherd’s pie or turkey tetrazzini.

The holiday is all about giving thanks and enjoying time with friends and family. When it comes to the holiday meal, think moderation, healthy substitutes, and staying mindful and aware of your choices. Get creative with your recipes and start some new traditions with your family! You can avoid the holiday weight gain and be ready to take on 2018.


Talk to your Orlando Health Physician Associates Primary Care Doctor to schedule an appointment with our Registered Dietitians

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