So many times at Thanksgiving we see lists of tips on how to lighten up Thanksgiving foods. But part of what many of us are thankful for is that traditional turkey and gravy, those homemade mashed potatoes, the stuffing and of course ... the pie! With a little planning, you can enjoy that piece of pumpkin or pecan pie and not feel overstuffed. Try these tips:
- Downsize your plate size. Use smaller plates when possible for the meal and the pie. Your portions will automatically become smaller. Yet, they will still fill the plate, giving the impression of a larger and still satisfying meal.
- Browse the buffet. Check out all the food before loading up on lesser-liked items.
- Divide and conquer. Start out with half the food you want the first time it is passed, or when you serve yourself from a buffet. This also will force you to eat slower and give your stomach time to begin feeling full before you fill your plate with more food.
- Make fruit and veggies a part of your plate. Serve a vegetable tray so there are some lower calorie choices or select these from a Thanksgiving buffet. If you're bringing a dish, bring some fresh fruit or vegetable salad.
- Serve some foods separately. Rather than heaping the whipped cream on the pie for guests or mixing in the salad dressing, pass these higher calorie items and let people serve themselves. Also, include a lower calorie salad dressing choice.
- Make your first bites of pie your best bites. According to psychologists, your first bites of food taste best. If you slow down when eating dessert, you'll enjoy the taste more and can be satisfied with a smaller amount. Swallow each mouthful before taking the next bite! If you are becoming full, take the remaining pie home so you can enjoy it tomorrow.
- Provide take-home containers for guests. Send extra food, or food people feel too full to eat that day, home with guests. Buy some inexpensive plastic containers or other take-home boxes. Avoid letting food sit out after a meal. Perishable food shouldn't be left at room temperature more than 2 hours.
- Be mindful during the holidays. The average person may gain a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's. That doesn't sound so bad; however, people don't tend lose all this weight and it adds up over the years. There are usually plenty of opportunities to partake in higher-calorie foods throughout the holiday season. Plan ahead and check to see how hungry you are before you take your first bite.
5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Five Healthy Tips for the Holidays, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
This article has been peer-reviewed. It was originally written by Alice Henneman and updated in 2021.