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Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner is not designed to be “healthy” – it is designed to a celebration of blessings! So, this year, don’t ruin your celebration with anxiety and guilt over what you are eating.  Instead, arm yourself with some expert tips so that, whether you are the preparer of the meal or the partaker, you can relax and focus on your blessings and not your belly.

Nutritionist, Diana Kelly suggests that you start by filling half your plate with good non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, bell pepper, green beans or salad) then pile one-quarter up with skinless turkey breast (size of a deck of cards is usually about 3 oz)  and leave the remaining one-quarter for starchy sides (corn, potatoes, peas, rice, and casseroles.)

Kelly recommends that you choose your favorite “special” sides that you only see around the holidays and keep servings to a half-cup. “Stuffing? Worth it. A plain-old everyday roll? Not so much! One serving of starchy sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, and cranberry sauce is equal to ½ cup, which would look like half of a baseball.”

Lori Zanini, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics continues to point out that  you should “Count “casseroles” of any type as your starch. She points out that casseroles, like broccoli casserole and green bean casserole, often call for creamy soups, sticks of butter, and large amounts of cheese in their ingredient lists,” says Zanini. “Not only do these types of dishes contribute excessive amounts of calories, but they’re also very high in sodium.” Remember sodium leads to water retention and belly bloat.

Here’s some really great advice from Liz Ward, RD, author of My Plate for Moms…

“And remember, the first couple of bites of any food are often the most enjoyable. “Don’t waste your calories, but don’t avoid your favorite foods, either,” Ward says. “Eat foods that you love and that aren’t available at other times of the year, like homemade cranberry sauce, specialty sides, and pumpkin pie, and forgo everyday foods like chips, rolls, and mashed potatoes.”

So, relax and plan to enjoy all the blessings, including the Thanksgiving Feast this year!