The period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve is a time of family, fun, and food, and I place an emphasize on food because it is also the time when most of us gain five to ten pounds (or more). Turkey is not the issue, as it is a healthy low fat protein source. The problem is in the choice of accompaniments such as, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, all of which are usually made with a lot of fat. And let's not forget the number of desserts also on the table. In some cultures Christmas would not be Christmas without a seven course seafood feast (plus all the trimmings!). New Year's is known for it's over abundant drinking and gorging oneself on too many appetizers.
I say it is time to trade in the holiday tradition for a more realistic approach to celebratory eating. You can still design a delicious and wholesome meal around turkey as long as you stay away from those already injected with butter and other high fat seasonings. If you want a vegan way of celebrating you can purchase Tofurkey, which is made of soybeans. Regardless of your choice don't overdo the stuffing. Traditional stuffing is predominately made out of starchy carbohydrates, is full of fat, and high in salt. Yes you may add carrots and celery but they are overtaken by the sticks of butter and hydrogenated crackers. You can make the stuffing healthier by using crackers or bread crumbs without hydrogenated fat, delete the butter and add a small amount of olive oil and apple juice, and double up on the vegetables.
Another healthy alternative to high fat side dishes, is one of my favorites, and is so simple to make. It is a combination of apples, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little bit of honey for sweetness. It stimulates all of your oral needs as it is crunchy, chewy, sweet, and salty. I always replace one of my dessert choices with this apple/walnut dish. Also please don't believe it when you hear that it is healthy to replace high calorie foods with sugar substitutes and margarine. I would rather eat the natural way of using sugar and butter in moderation than to put something that is overly processed into my body.
Instead of sugar substitutes (which have their own share of problems) try organic raw sugar and mix with honey which has twice the sweetness of regular sugar. I suggest that instead of margarine use olive oil or prepare a healthier mix of butter and olive oil. Learn to have less, that way you can enjoy almost anything (in moderation). For example have a smear of butter on that dinner roll, rather than a glob of butter. Instead of using all the drippings from the turkey in your gravy recipe, use ½ of the drippings and then add a fat free turkey consommé.
Here are some other simple tricks to reduce overeating, drink a glass water before the meal to fill you up and if you don't like the taste of water then add the juice of one lemon or orange. Another trick is to eat the greens first, like the salad and vegetable choices; then you won't be as hungry for the starch and fattier dishes.
Disclaimer:Dr. Mundorff is a Board Certified Naturopath, and not a medical doctor. The information in this column is for educational purposes only and should not be used to self-diagnose and treat diseases. Naturopathy is a complementary practice to health care and should be used in conjunction with a competent health care practitioner. Many herbal and homeopathic remedies can actually be contraindicated in many health conditions, with certain prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications. Please consult your physician before starting any alternative modalities.