The question is how can you make a change without looking like some nutty eccentric to your family and friends.
First of all, I would suggest looking over the entire table before beginning to fill your plate. The good thing about the Thanksgiving meal is there are often a number of choices based around a healthy main entrée. Turkey has a lot of health benefits. It is just a matter of choosing your sides wisely.
Secondly, I would say watch your portions sizes. Here are some portion guidelines I stumbled across a while back.
· Fruit: One serving of most fruits is about 1 cup. A good visual to think of is a baseball or tennis ball size.
· Vegetables: In most cases, it is not necessary to limit the vegetables. It is important to make sure we get enough! One cup raw equals one serving while half a cup cooked also equals one serving. The average person should try to eat four to five vegetable servings per day.
· Protein: A good visual is a deck of cards or your meat portion should be able to fit within the palm of your hand. Don't forget that eggs, tofu, and beans also count towards your protein intake. A general rule is that the average person should not eat more than two "palm size" servings of protein per day.
· Fats: The portion size depends on the type of fat consumed. Fat is measured in teaspoons or tablespoons. Half a walnut or the size of your thumb is a good visual for 1 tablespoon. Think of a dice size for the teaspoon serving size.
· Carbohydrates: The portion size for carbohydrates also varies. A good general rule is that half a cup equals one serving. If you fill up a cupcake wrapper with pasta or rice, that is one serving. For breads, think of the size of a cassette tape (if you remember what that looks like) as one serving. And for potatoes, think of a computer mouse as a serving size.
· Dairy: One cup of milk, a six ounce container of yogurt, and a one ounce piece of cheese equals one portion. One ounce of cheese is about the size of a box of dental floss or two dice.
Thirdly, I would suggest bringing a dessert. Most hosts see bringing a dessert as a kind gesture and it will allow you to create a healthy alternative. I have included a number of links to help you chose a healthy desert of your choice.
Lastly, don’t forget to stop and be thankful. Make sure to take a moment in the day to reflect and express what it is that you are thankful for. Across three experiments, Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough (2003) found evidence that the experience of gratitude leads to positive psychological, physical, and social outcomes. We often focus on our intake alone when considering our health while neglecting the importance of psychological and spiritual output.
Thanksgiving should not be the only time we express gratitude but it does allow us to refocus and put the positive of our life back at the top of our list as we are surrounded by those we love.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!