'Add On' for Healthy Holiday Eating

Turkeys, start running again!

Thanksgiving dinner is around the corner, and with it no doubt will come many foods to overeat, indulge in — and to feel bad about after we clear the plate.

Face it: Many of the mainstays of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner are high in calories and can add to the cushion around your midsection. Not that we should forget to stay warm in winter, but that's why we have goose-down jackets and cashmere to protect us.

Instead of taking the conventional approach of skipping our favorite foods, let's look at what we can add on to our Thanksgiving dinner that can help us to increase our energy, change our body appearance and help our mental clarity.

Adding On to Cut Calories?

A typical Thanksgiving dinner consists largely of the following: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn, turnips, yams and pumpkin pie.

Many of these foods are notably high in calories. But have you noticed that the food mentioned above is also quite dense? For example, compare a salad with a potato. Salad is light and fresh, with many of its enzymes intact, while potatoes are quite dense and heavy, with fewer active enzymes. The same criticisms that apply to potatoes can be heaped onto our beloved stuffing as well. We tend to like this delicacy thick and dense, with bread crumbs, eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Did I forget anything?

So instead of keeping it dense, why not fluff it up? For example, when you prepare the stuffing, why not add chop up some kale and spinach and add them? Adding kale can also boost levels of certain nutrients that help your body to function efficiently.

Here's another tip: add on a salad as an appetizer. We Europeans have salad before meals or with meals. This might contribute to a more efficient digestion, as many believe raw food has more fiber and trace minerals that help in our digestion process and in any kind of weight management program.

As for dessert, how about serving yogurt with your pumpkin pie? In addition to being a healthy alternative to a second or third slice, yogurt may also provide your body with friendly bacteria that help our digestion, known as probiotics.

Don't think you like yogurt? Oh boy, you must be missing out on many of the offerings at your grocery. Nowadays, many supermarkets carry an enormous variety of yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, sheep's yogurt or goat yogurt. Try them out, and add them as a surprise accompaniment to your dessert.

Other Ways to 'Add On'

While we're talking about adding on, why not help to prepare the food? When you are a cook, you know that after tasting a little bit here and there, most likely you are not as hungry by the time you sit at the table. Being active also burns calories, plus it helps the person who is involved preparing your dinner. Your senses will be satisfied, and most likely you will not eat as much.

Alcoholic beverages are another issue. If wine is served at your table, bear in mind that one glass of wine has 124 calories. But again, rather than depriving yourself, you can instead just add some sparkling water to your white wine, which is called a spritzer in Austria. It has a very refreshing feeling; you still enjoy the effects of drinking alcohol, but with half of the calories.

This just goes to show that smart holiday eating is not always about getting rid of items in your diet. Sometimes it is best to produce better versions of an existing favorite. Simply add on items that are more beneficial for you. Common sense can be a great guide.

Stefan Aschan is the owner and founder of www.stefanaschan.com, which provides nutrition and exercise programs in New York City.