Mashed potatoes with cream. Stuffing made with sausage and butter. Candied yams with caramel sauce and marshmallows. Pies, cakes and cookies. It’s a Thanksgiving buffet of our dreams. But over-indulging in these beloved holiday foods can derail your healthy eating habits, causing dreaded holiday weight gain. And that’s weight we don’t lose over the course of the year.
Nearly 70% of American adults are either overweight or obese. Being obese increases th
e risk for health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and more.
According to the American Heart Association, more than 80% of heart disease can be prevented with simply lifestyle changes like exercising 30 minutes most days of the week; eating a healthier diet filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and limiting sodium, saturated fats and added sugars.
Enjoying time with our family and celebrating with traditional foods we know and love doesn’t have to be unhealthy. To keep your diet, and health, in check over the Thanksgiving holiday, try these healthy tips from the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign, including ways to minimize stress and smart substitutions for your holiday meals.
Try healthy recipe substitutes to make your favorite holiday recipes better for heart health.
- Instead of butter, substitute equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no-sugar-added applesauce.
- Instead of sugar, use a lower-calorie sugar substitute.
- Instead of whole or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or skim milk.
- Instead of using only white flour, use half white and half whole-wheat flour.
- Instead of adding chocolate chips or candies, use dried fruit, like cranberries or cherries.
- Use extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint to add flavor, instead of sugar or butter.
- Use vegetable oils such as olive oil instead of butter (even in your mashed potatoes).
- Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of butter and salt.
- Use whole-grain breads and pastas instead of white.
- Bake, grill or steam vegetables instead of frying.
- Instead of whole milk or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or fat-free/skim milk.
Prepare healthy vegetables, eat a balanced meal
Now that you’ve prepared some of your Thanksgiving meal with healthy substitutes, prepare yourself a balanced plate of all your favorite holiday foods, starting with a salad and vegetables. Eating your veggies will ensure you get the nutrients you need and will help fill you up so you don’t overload on the foods your body needs less of, such as rolls, stuffing and pie.
Increase physical activity
The American Heart Association advises increasing physical activity over Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season to combat the extra calories and additional stress. Go for a family walk after each meal or gathering. Play catch with your kids or walk your dog the long route. Take just 40 minutes and go to the gym to release endorphins your body needs to stay healthy.
Keep stress to a minimum
There’s so much to do at the holidays. Taking care of family, cooking, cleaning—Thanksgiving can involve a lot of activities that not only keep you busy, but can also increase your level of stress. Keep stress to a minimum with stress management techniques. The AHA recommends:
- Planning ahead to help you with time management
- Focusing on one thing at a time
- Taking time to relax & not sweating the small stuff
Get enough sleep
Part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle means getting enough sleep. Why? Because your quality of sleep can impact your heart health. The American Heart Association recommends adults get six to eight hours of sleep per night. Over the holiday, get into bed early to give yourself enough time to wind down after your day and to fall asleep faster and more soundly.
For more tips, download the AHA’s free Holiday Healthy Eating Guide at http://bit.ly/AHAHolidayGuide2015.
Learn more about a healthier lifestyle at www.heart.org/gettinghealthy and get free recipes at www.heart.org/recipes.
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Try this quick, Simple Cooking with Heart recipe for using holiday leftovers anytime you’re craving Thanksgiving flavors. It’ll be a nice change after a heavy meal.
Festive Turkey Rice Salad
Presented by: Walmart – Simple Cooking With Heart
Serves 6 – 203 Calories – 25 mg Sodium
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. ground ginger
3 1/2 cups cooked wild or brown rice
1 1/2 cups chopped, boneless, skinless, cooked turkey breast
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 bunch chopped green onions (1/2 cup)
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, oil, honey and ginger; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the rice, turkey, cranberries and green onion. Toss with ginger dressing. Refrigerate until serving.
You can also toss leftover peas or your veggies of choice into the salad. Make this delightful salad year round using Rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken breast. Use quick-cooking couscous instead of rice.
Kids in the Kitchen: Have the kids help you measure out the ingredients and pour into the bowl.
Calories Per Serving 203
Total Fat 2.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.7 g
Cholesterol 29 mg
Sodium 25 mg
Carbohydrates 30 g
Fiber 2 g
Sugars 9 g
Protein 15 g
Dietary Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1/2 fruit, 1 1/2 lean meat