Welcome to our Food for Thought Blog Series that will aim to address these questions and more each month! Tune in for expert nutritional tips from Masha Fox-Rabinovich, outpatient dietitian and diabetes educator at Washington Adventist Hospital, and savvy cooking techniques from Randall Smith, executive chef for Adventist HealthCare.
Thanksgiving is a holiday meant to be enjoyed by bringing family and friends together, yet it can also be a challenging time that induces stress among those of us concerned with our diets.
Q: How do I keep to a healthy diet without stressing during Thanksgiving?
A: From Masha Fox-Rabinovich, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, outpatient dietitian at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center:
There are numerous articles about potential changes that would make this feast a healthier one, including recipe substitutions and other advice for limiting calories. I’d like to share the following “do”s and “don’t”s to address how we talk, and think, about food on Thanksgiving. I hope these tips will help you and your loved ones enjoy a healthy and happy holiday!
- Don’t comment on what anyone else is or isn’t eating. Comments that encourage someone to try seconds of a certain dish, or comments expressing surprise that someone is getting seconds, are likely to make that person feel uncomfortable. Avoid talking about anyone else’s food choices or other eating habits. Don’t make judgments and do enjoy the meal together!
- Do compliment the chef on a tasty dish. There’s real butter and heavy cream in the mashed potatoes? That’s great! Fats help make up cell membranes and transport certain vitamins. Remember that balance is an important part of healthy eating. Leave the nutrient analysis for another day.
- Don’t label foods as “good” or “bad”. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all foods can be part of a healthy diet. Some foods, like non-starchy veggies, should be eaten in larger amounts, and others, like cookies and cakes, should be enjoyed in moderation. But consider that pecan pie with a scoop of ice cream feels good to eat. And healthy eating includes both physical and emotional health. These good feelings should not be associated with negative labels that could ruin the food memory. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying the meal!
- Do maintain your regular meal pattern. Also, don’t skip breakfast and lunch earlier in the day to “save room” for the big meal. People tend to overeat after they’ve skipped meals and snacks. Think about your hunger and satiety level on a zero to ten scale, with zero being you are starving and ten being “Thanksgiving full”. Try to avoid being at either end of that scale; both ends of that scale are uncomfortable.
- Do plan to be active on Thanksgiving and every day. Turn on some music and dance before and after eating. Take a walk. And if you’re on the east coast this year, get outside and play in the snow!
Look out for more healthy tips from our resident dietitian, coming soon! Do you have questions about food or dieting? We’d like to hear from you! Please share your questions in the comments section below.