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Celebrating a Guilt-Free Thanksgiving: Six Healthy Eating Tips

Thanksgiving often brings feelings of overindulgence, but you don’t have to feel guilty when you push away your empty plate after the big meal. Many traditional Thanksgiving foods are pretty healthy; the problem is that we tend to eat too little of them and too much of the bad stuff. So how do you have a healthy Thanksgiving? If you fill your plate thoughtfully, pass on seconds of your aunt’s famous mashed potatoes, and get some exercise, you can enjoy your meal and your peace of mind. Here’s how:

Tip 1: Load up on fruits and vegetables

Conveniently, the traditional Thanksgiving meal already has a lot of fruits and vegetables in it. Just be sure that you leave half your plate free for these health-giving foods when you serve yourself turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. It’s easy to do when you have many delicious choices on the table.

· Beautifully orange in color, sweet potatoes and squash, such as pumpkin or acorn, are popular Thanksgiving side dishes, and they’re a great way to get beta-carotene (which your body uses to make vitamin A), vitamin C, the B-complex vitamins, and the mineral, manganese. A lot of sweet potato dishes have added sugar in the form of marshmallows or brown sugar, but the vegetable is naturally sweet and can be served without sweeteners.

· Green vegetables like broccoli, green beans, spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts deserve a place at the Thanksgiving table. Green veggies contain beta-carotene, vitamins C and K, as well as manganese. Bonus: Many of them are crucifers, which means they contain powerful detoxifying compounds.

· If you use red or purple-skinned potatoes for your mashed potatoes and leave the skin on, you’ll be getting the heart-healthy phyto-nutrients, anthocyanins. You can also get anthocyanins from roasted beets or a serving of cranberry sauce. Try this low-sugar cranberry sauce recipe.

Tip 2: Cut down on carbs

If it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes and stuffing. By all means, have some, but keep your portions of carb-heavy foods small. Try a breadless or whole-grain stuffing like this one made of cauliflower and mushrooms.

Tip 3: Practice mindful eating

Consider how much you really want to eat as you load up your plate. (In fact, decide beforehand so you can make smart decisions at the table.) After you’ve eaten, check in with yourself to see if you’re really hungry before going in for seconds. Don’t overeat just because it’s a holiday habit. Nobody ever said, “Wow, I’m really glad I had that third serving of mashed potatoes and gravy!”

Tip 4: Watch your liquid calories

Cut back on alcohol and eggnog. Not only does alcohol have calories, even worse, it makes you lose your impulse control, causing you to eat more than you normally would. Instead, go for carbonated water. I like to make my own sugar-free soda by adding flavored liquid stevia.

Tip 5: Upgrade your desserts

Pumpkin pie is the king of Thanksgiving desserts, but many people also like apple or pecan.  All have notable health qualities if you can keep the sugar under control.

Pumpkin is high in antioxidants, including beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, as well as the mineral, potassium. Apples contain fiber, vitamin C, and other antioxidants. Pecans provide heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Most pecan pies are shockingly high in sugar, but this one, while still plenty sweet, is more sensible.

If apples are the apple of your eye, try this pie. Or if you’re sticking to the traditional pumpkin pie, here’s a sugar-free recipe.

Tip 6: Get moving!

Finally, a family walk or perhaps a game of football or Capture the Flag before or after the big meal can prevent that logy feeling that comes from eating too much and not moving enough.

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at Juice Plus+! What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods? How will you make your Thanksgiving meal a healthy one?

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