It’s almost Thanksgiving, and for most Americans this means eating – lots of eating, followed by weight gain. The average American consumes 3,000 calories and 225 grams of fat during one Thanksgiving meal. This doesn’t include the alcoholic drinks and high-caloric beverages commonly on offer, such as sweet tea, punch or sodas. It’s often difficult to keep the calories under control, because we don’t want to give up our favorite foods. Here’s the good news: With some minor modifications, you might not have to give up those dishes you love. By reducing the sugar and fat in your diet, you can cut your calories and still enjoy a great meal. Here are some Thanksgiving menu ideas that won’t bust your belt-line and will help you to prevent weight gain:

5 Tips for Creating Healthier Recipes

#1: Reduce Sugar

Sugar is known to be a major culprit in most weight gain episodes, and remarkably enough you can still make a deliciously sweet product by reducing the sugar by ½ or 1/3. Add spices or flavorings such as:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Vanilla extract
  • Almond flavoring

All of these will help to boost sweetness without adding unnecessary calories. Besides, they have their own healthful properties that simply aren’t contained in regular sugar.

#2: Cut the Fat

There are multiple ways you can reduce the fat content of your Thanksgiving meal without forfeiting any of the flavor, including using:

  • Skim or low-fat milk instead of cream in mashed potatoes and desserts
  • Soft tub margarine instead of butter
  • Light sour cream instead of full-fat
  • Reduced-fat cheese in place of regular, full-fat cheeses

And of course, don’t eat the turkey skin, which contains a large quantity of the fat contained in the meat.

#3: Skip the Salt

Salt is another dirty word in the food dictionary, given that it causes or aggravates more than 20 salt-related health problems. It also causes weight gain because it attracts water, which can result in water retention and bloating. Reduce the salt content of your recipes by ½ and you’ll still retain most of the flavor, without sacrificing your weight management program in the process.

#4: Substitute Grains

Processed, enriched or white grains make foods such as pasta and bread heavy, hard to digest and nutritionally-poor, as well as packing on the pounds. Substitute these with whole wheat versions, which will triple the fiber and often reduce the number of calories in the finished products.

#5: Scale Back on Meat

If you’re cooking delicious stews or casseroles for the Thanksgiving weekend, cut back on the meat, poultry or fish you would normally include. Increase the quantity of vegetables instead, and you’ll save on both calories and fat. You’ll also benefit by gaining a higher quantity of vitamins, minerals and fiber, and the food is guaranteed to be equally mouth-watering.

Ideas for Healthier Alternatives

Based on the theories above, here are some recipe ideas and suggestions for you to make your Thanksgiving meal healthier than in previous years:

Healthy Green Bean Casserole (View PDF)

Note: 4 ounces or 113.4 grams is one serving, which equals half a cup. This contains:

  • Calories: 69
  • Protein: 3g
  • Carbs: 10g
  • Fat: 2g

Compare these numbers with a non-modified green bean casserole, which contains on average 145 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving!

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (View PDF)

This delicious alternative not only tastes great but provides a number of essential nutrients for your body. It contains significant amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Folate, as well as smaller quantities of other vitamins. Vitamin C, in particular, is a powerful antioxidant that works to lower the level of harmful chemicals that damage tissue cells.

Note: 4 ounces or 113.4 grams is one serving, which equals half a cup. This contains:

  • Calories: 103
  • Protein: 3g
  • Carbs: 12g
  • Fat: 5g

Traditional, home-made mashed potatoes typically contain 240 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving.

Sweet Potato and Apple Stuffing (View PDF)

This recipe is sweet and loaded with flavor but contains no added sugar, and it’s high in essential nutrients and fiber. Sweet potato contains high quantities of Vitamin A, which is known to help to maintain healthy vision and control gene activity.

Note: 4 ounces or 113.4 grams is one serving, which equals half a cup. This contains:

  • Calories: 85
  • Protein: 2g
  • Carbs: 15g
  • Fat: 2g

Traditional, home-made sweet potato casserole cantains 149 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving.

Make this Thanksgiving a year to remember with delicious, healthy recipes that enable you to reduce the calories and fat you take in during the holiday weekend, prevent weight gain, and take your next step towards maintaining a healthy weight for life.