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Trying to Lose or Maintain Weight? Here’s A Dietitian’s Guide to Navigating the Holiday Meal Table

November 18, 2019

Mary Noon
Mary Noon

Are you trying to be mindful of carbohydrates and still follow your diet for Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season?  Or how to navigate the Thanksgiving Day table?

Maybe you’ve been reducing carbohydrate foods, because you have been trying to lose weight or control your blood glucose. Here is a guide to help you do so. After all, it’s just the beginning of the holiday season and you want to enjoy them and be healthy at the same time.

1. Be sure there will be lean protein at the meal. Eating protein at the same time as eating carbohydrate foods has a beneficial effect on your blood glucose whether you have diabetes or not. It can make you feel more satisfied after eating.

For Thanksgiving, protein usually comes in the form of turkey. Some of us like white meat and others enjoy eating the dark meat. Either is OK. But avoid eating the skin, which is fat and high in calories. Many people make chicken. Other good options are fish, shellfish and pork loin/tenderloin.

2. Non-starchy vegetables are low-carbohydrate options and should fill ½ your plate. Think Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens, cauliflower, turnip, green beans, asparagus, carrots, squash and more. Add aromatics like garlic, onion, herbs and spices for flavor vs. heavy cream or cheese sauces. A large salad or cut up raw vegetables can fill in as well.

3. Be picky about what carbs you do eat. Survey all the items being served and make mindful decisions. For example, you can have bread or potatoes any day, so why not skip those and instead have a small serving of your aunt’s stuffing.

4.  If you are doubtful about what may be offered at the occasion, bring a dish you can enjoy like roasted vegetables or mashed cauliflower in place of potatoes.

5.  Revamp old favorites. Try roasting sweet potatoes with rosemary and a little olive oil instead of  those cooked with brown sugar and topped with marshmallows.

6.  Try something new. Cook fresh apples with cinnamon and half a cup of fresh cranberries for a change from high-sugar cranberry sauce.

7.  Be sure to bring a low-calorie beverage like flavored seltzer if you want to drink something other than soda that may be offered.  Try a spicy tea or flavored coffee instead of a rich dessert.

8.  If you tend to gravitate toward dessert, save some room for it. Eat a small slice of pie or maybe start a new tradition of placing a large bowl filled with seasonal fruit and mixed nuts, complete with nut crackers, on the table.

9.  Remember, there are always leftover so you can enjoy a second serving the next day.

Mary Noon is a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Hartford Hospital. 

Want even more information and personalized advice? Make an appointment with a registered dietitian. Call us at Hartford Hospital (860.972.2604) and we can tell you how. 

Looking for information on surgical weight loss? Visit WhatWillYouGain.org to find a FREE community education class near you!