Retrofit Blog

Healthy Thanksgiving Tips and Swaps for Hosts and Guests

PART TWO: Rules for the Guest

November 13, 2014

Yes, you can easily pile your plate with 5,000 calories worth of food on November 27th. But, whether you're the host or a guest, you can make some smart swaps that are healthier—and just as delicious.

PART TWO: Rules for the Guest

Don't skip breakfast. Doing so will only make you ravenous by mealtime. A breakfast must: Protein. A study reported in Obesity Research found that women who added a little lean protein to their breakfast (in the form of a slice of Canadian bacon added to an egg sandwich made with an English muffin) felt less hungry during the next four hours than those who ate a breakfast without protein. Lean muscle mass is more metabolically active and can help with weight management.

Have a protein/fiber snack beforehand. It may sound counterintuitive, but having an apple with peanut butter or veggies with a little Greek yogurt dip a few hours before mealtime will keep you from entering the Thanksgiving feast with reckless abandon.

Bring a dish. You may have little control over how the host prepares her Thanksgiving spread, but you can easily prepare a colorful salad or side to bring. If baking's your thing, try one of these simple swaps: Substitute evaporated skim milk for whole milk or half-and-half; substitute one egg for 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute; reduce sugar by one-quarter to one-third, and add cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract to boost flavor. (Note: Baking time may increase when you modify sugar, so test the recipe beforehand.)

Take your time. How quickly you eat does impact how much you eat. A study from the University of Rhode Island found that those who ate slowly ate 1/3 less than those who ate quickly. Your stomach takes 20 minutes to tell your brain that you're full, so every meal should take you at least 20 minutes to finish. Try to chew each bite of food as slowly as possible and pace yourself.

Sign up for dishwashing duty. The longer you sit around the table, the more likely you are to eat. Volunteer to help clear the table, do the dishes or lead a game of charades for any restless kids at the table. (Yes, you can be excused!)


Tofurkey, 5 ounces roast (250 calories) Tofu, 5 ounces (99 calories) 151 calories
Dark meat turkey, 5 ounces with 1/2 cup gravy (322 calories) White meat turkey, 3 ounces with 1/4 cup gravy (158 calories) 164 calories
Sweet potato casserole, 1/2 cup (164 calories) 1/2 baked sweet potato with 1 tsp butter (80 calories) 84 calories
Stuffing, 1 cup (340 calories) Stuffing, 1/3 cup (113 calories) 227 calories
Green bean casserole, 3/4 cup (148 calories) Steamed green beans, 1 cup (50 calories) 98 calories
Pecan Pie, 1/8 of a 9" pie (503 calories) Pumpkin Pie, 1/8 of a 9" pie (213 calories) 290 calories
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Amy Margulies Retrofit Registered Dietitian

Amy is the Lead Registered Dietitian at Retrofit and a Certified Diabetes Educator. She has been educating about healthy eating for nearly 20 years. She helps clients find realistic ways to improve their overall health while successfully managing their weight.

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