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How to Plate a Healthier Thanksgiving Dinner

November 11, 2018 | Categories:

No one ever said Thanksgiving dinner was healthy. But there are certain tricks to make it a little healthier—and to avoid riding out an uncomfortable food coma on the couch for the rest of the night.  Here, nutrition experts tell you how to build the perfect Thanksgiving dinner plate.

Start by filling half your plate with vegetables, then pile one-quarter up with turkey breast, and leave the remaining one-quarter for starchy sides. Here, some more expert-approved guidelines for keeping portions in check this Thanksgiving Day.

Start with soup.

Pour yourself a bowl of seasonal veggie soup, suggests Katherine Tallmadge, RD, author ofDiet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations. She recommends abutternut squash soup, or a broccoli and carrot soup with potatoes and thyme. Kicking off your meal with soup will help you slow down while eating, and research has shown it may even reduce the number of calories you consume at your main meal.

Go crazy with the right veggies.

Fill up 50 percent of your plate with non-starchy veggies. This may include Brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, bell peppers, or a green salad, says Lori Zanini, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Stick with smaller portions of starchy (read: higher-calorie) veggies, such as corn, potatoes, green peas, and winter squashes.

In charge of the prep? Put colorful vegetables together in dishes and use herbs, spices, onions and garlic to flavor them with fewer calories—try cooked carrots and cumin or Brussels sprouts with garlic. You can also add a healthy twist to classic comfort foods, like replacing green bean casserole with some grilled green beans flavored with garlic and red pepper flakes, Zanini says.

Make an array of interesting vegetable dishes, instead of lots of starchy dishes, suggestsTallmadge. “We tend to passively overeat when presented with variety, so if you want to give your guests a medley of dishes, have them be veggie-based,” she says.

Fill up on skinless turkey breast.

The turkey itself is relatively low in calories if you stick to skinless white meat, so most of our nutritionists don’t mind if you eat a little more than the recommended 3 ounces of protein (about a size of a deck of cards or an iPhone 6 Plus, which is 5.5 inches long). “I have certainly seen individuals pile their plates with more than three times the appropriate portion size on Thanksgiving Day,” says Zanini.

“I am a big fan of protein because it keeps you fuller for longer so I would serve myself the equivalent of nearly two decks of playing cards of turkey,” says Liz Ward, RD, author ofMyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better.

Scoop sides on sparingly.

Choose your favorite “special” sides that you only see around the holidays and keep servings to a half-cup. Stuffing? Worth it. A plain-old everyday roll? Not so much. One serving of starchy sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, and cranberry sauce is equal to ½ cup, which would look like half of a baseball.

Count “casseroles” of any type as your starch. “Since I am originally from the South, I know too well that even ‘veggie’ casseroles, like broccoli casserole and green bean casserole, often call for creamy soups, sticks of butter, and large amounts of cheese in their ingredient lists,” says Zanini. “Not only do these types of dishes contribute excessive amounts of calories, but they’re also very high in sodium.” Remember sodium leads to water retention and belly bloat (a.k.a. one more reason your pants won’t button tomorrow).

 

Read the full article on RealSimple.com.

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