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How to Carve Calories and be Healthy-ish this Thanksgiving!

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Healthy and Thanksgiving are not synonymous, but they do not have to be mutually exclusive either.  There are various ways to stay relatively healthy throughout the Holidays including portion control and revising favorite cult classic comfort foods.  So whether you are watching your waistline, your blood pressure, blood sugar, or your cholesterol, here are a few ways to fill up your plate without ballooning like a Thanksgiving parade float.

Go low fat and high flavor.  It seems simple, right?  Well, it is a tricky balance but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work.  Start by substituting mayonnaise and/or sour cream for fat-free plain Greek yogurt.  This can be done in most recipes like deviled eggs, creamy salad dressings, and even the Thanksgiving staple: mashed potatoes.  Yup, if you can even imagine, you can dazzle your guests with whipped, creamy delicious mashed potatoes made with Greek yogurt, and the best part is, you don’t even have to tell them.  So just by making small substitutions like using fat-free buttermilk instead of the full-fat counterpart, or marshmallow fluff instead of frosting on those cupcakes can save you loads of calories by the end of your feast.  Fresh herbs are also a great way to put taste back into your lower-calorie smorgasbord.  As an alternative for a green bean casserole, try roasting green beans and mushrooms in the oven with fresh minced garlic, then top them off with just a bit of butter, some chopped flat leaf parsley and crunchy onions and you can save yourself about 150 calories per serving.  By swapping out that turkey leg for a piece of skinless white meat you save about 4 grams of fat per serving, and by eating pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie you can cut almost 200 calories per serving.  So with some of the new Thanksgiving pinch hitters packing just a fraction of the fat and calories, you will have less guilt when you go back for seconds.  Which brings me to the next way to battle the bulge this bountiful season…

EAT LESS!  It really does not get more basic than this.  I know, I know, but it is super hard to have some semblance of self-control when all of your favorite starches and sugars are in one place at one time.  So, by all means, have some of literally everything, but just a little.  Limiting yourself to just one serving of everything will let you enjoy the cornucopia of foods without having to unbutton your pants before the football game even starts.  To make the tough decisions easier, eat off a smaller plate (think appetizer plate instead of dinner plate) and this will cut the portion sizes of your food substantially.  Also, stay hydrated.  Drink 8 ounces of water before meals to help you eat less, feel full faster and aid in digestion, and if you are drinking the hard stuff, stick to a one to one ratio (for every alcoholic beverage you have, drink a glass of water after).

Then there is the old adage, everything in moderation.  This is especially true when you are watching your blood sugar and/or cholesterol during the most wonderful, sugar laden and fat-filled time of the year.  Sticking to low fat proteins and complex high fiber carbs will aid in keeping your blood sugar stable and the points off your cholesterol.  However, when you come from a family that associates food with love (like mine) then it is hard to not give the gift of sugar induced comas and clogged arteries.  Not to mention, I usually get insulted when people turn down the food that I have worked so hard on preparing.  Nevertheless, when it comes to diabetes and atrial blockage, I am happy to abide by doctors’ orders and take that pie away from Grandpa and the gravy away from Aunt June.  Keeping healthier alternatives on the table like fresh fruit and whipped cream, steamed veggies with fresh herbs, vegan gravy (yes, that is a thing and it is delicious) and baked sweet potatoes will help the people you love adhere to their dietary restrictions throughout the Holidays.

Thinking of Thanksgiving more of a marathon and not a 100 yard dash, is definitely the way to go.  Nibble, nosh, graze, pick, don’t overdo it and be merry.  But remember, if you are concerned that you may be at risk for high cholesterol or diabetes, Personalabs is available at your convenience to arrange clinical testing with no doctor’s visit and highly professional staff to help coordinate your testing at an affordable price.

Written By: Ami Ayala

Medically Approved By Dr. Edward Salko, MD

Dr. Edward Salko is the board-certified physician who reviews lab tests provided by PERSONALABS™. He earned his Bachelor of Science in chemistry and pre-med from the University of Florida in Gainesville and his Doctor of Osteopathy Medicine in 1980 from Kansas City University School of Medicine.

Dr. Salko’s career has specialized in family and emergency medicine. His passion is to provide clients with the tools they need in the most convenient way possible to allow them to take charge of their own healthcare. He has held a variety of positions in Kansas, Florida and Washington. Currently, in addition to his duties as Medical Director for Personalabs, he is a practicing emergency physician in Kennewick, Washington.

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