6 Healthy Thanksgiving Day Foods

Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of the annual holiday fat gain for many people. Weeks of family get-togethers accompanied by more food than anyone needs to eat is a bad recipe for your physique. Combine this with the colder temperatures outside, which naturally decreases physical activity, and you have the “perfect storm” for fat gain.

It doesn’t have to be like this of course. Not everyone gains fat over the holidays, and there are some simple strategies you can use to prevent fat gain.

The first is to make sure to maintain your exercise regimen during these busy times. The holiday season is about giving, but don’t forget to make time to give back to yourself as well.

The second strategy is to be educated about your food choices. You want to eat healthily, but you don’t want to be the one at the table eating a plain chicken breast and steamed broccoli while everyone else is enjoying the Thanksgiving feast. There is a compromise between these two approaches, and it begins by understanding the healthier options that are available to you at a typical Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey

Benefits: Packed with protein and low in fat (even less than chicken). High in the amino acid tryptophan, which naturally increases your levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and relaxes your body.

Avoid: The skin, which is filled with fat and calories, and is high in toxins.

Sweet potatoes

Benefits: Much healthier than white potatoes, sweet potatoes are a dense source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and beta carotene.  Gives you sustained energy without causing a blood sugar spike.

Avoid: Adding calories with toppings like marshmallows or too much butter.  Try adding cinnamon or a low-calorie butter spray instead.

Pumpkin pie

Benefits: Pumpkin is high in fiber and rich in carotenoids, which may slow the aging process. Topping with cinnamon adds an additional antioxidant punch and helps to control your blood sugar levels.

Avoid: Overindulging or adding whipped cream or ice cream.

Broccoli

Benefits: High in polyphenols and indoles, which may help to optimize hormone levels and prevent cancer.  A good source of selenium, vitamin C, and soluble fiber.

Avoid: Overcooking as this will destroy many of the beneficial nutrients.  Also make sure to avoid topping with large amounts of butter.  Try extra-virgin olive oil with sea salt and pepper instead.

Red wine

Benefits: Good source of resveratrol, which has many potential benefits, including life extension.  The alcohol content is beneficial as well, as studies suggest that 2 alcoholic beverages per day contribute to a healthier and longer life.

Avoid: Overdoing it. More than two glasses and you are likely hurting your body more than you are helping.

Cranberries

Benefits: Rich source of antioxidants, especially anthocyanidins which may prevent cancer.

Avoid: Candied variations which contain excess sugar.

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