Your quick guide to a tasty -- and healthy -- Thanksgiving

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Fall is the season of changing leaves, pumpkin spice candles and Thanksgiving. As the holiday brings together family, memories and old friends, it also inspires large helpings of turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and … more mashed potatoes.

Many people think it is inevitable to overeat, feel bloated and unbutton your pants at the big meal. However, Banner Boswell Medical Center Clinical Nutritional Senior Manager Nicole Hahn shares advice for surviving the big day with healthy alternatives to favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

She shares ingredient substitutions that cut fat and calories, as well as tips and tricks on how to eat within your means (portion control). Not all readers will be fond of the words “healthy alternatives to Thanksgiving,” but considering these suggestions during the holiday season might make those New Year resolutions easier to accomplish.

Healthy Thanksgiving alternatives

Here are a few of her suggestions:

  • Swap mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower to cut carbohydrates and calories.
  • Try pureed silken tofu with honey, a vegan alternative to sweetened condensed milk, commonly used in pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole recipes.
  • Instead of eggs, use applesauce or black beans in baked goods for another vegan alternative.

“My personal favorite is replacing mayonnaise with Greek yogurt. Deviled eggs are a big hit at my house and always seem to disappear before we sit down for dinner,” Hahn said. “Greek yogurt has less saturated fat, yet keeps the consistency light and the taste great.”

Hahn says yogurt can also be used in chip and vegetable dips instead of sour cream.

Smart Holiday Eating Tips

Cutting sugar, saturated fat and calories from the foods that make Thanksgiving … well, Thanksgiving, may not appeal to everyone. Hahn has a few gut-saving tricks to preparing for the big meal as well as loading up your plate.

  • Use your hands. Form a fist and use that to measure out a serving of meat. Also, the vertical view of your fist to size casseroles and mashed potatoes.
  • Serve the first helping of food on the salad plate. After you’ve finished, give your body 10 minutes to relax and digest. Then, if you still want more, use your salad plate to serve yourself again. Hahn stresses the importance of listening to your hunger queues to avoid overeating.

The most important warning she shares is the myth that skipping breakfast to leave room for dinner is a good idea. Stick to your regular eating and exercise routine, she advises. Otherwise, you are more likely to binge on more calories throughout the day. And, you will feel worse because you failed to supply your body with nutrients.

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