Thanksgiving–don’t eat fake food

Thanksgiving is the one official day of the year dedicated to honoring real food and family meals.  Unfortunately, the real food part of the equation is under assault from the Food Police, who have declared war on Thanksgiving, and the entire holiday season.  It’s no longer acceptable to savor your food.  It’s a time to tinker with recipes so they end up with no calories, no flavor, no fat, no salt, no sugar and no enjoyment.  But hey, you can stuff yourself, because it’s all fake.  Quantity over quality.

This recipe for turkey “gravy” on the Mayo Clinic website is just one of millions of examples of this attack on food.   It’s more like thickened milk soup, nothing I’d ever pour over turkey or dressing.  Then there’s “healthy” pumpkin pie, made from tasteless fat free ingredients and artificial sweetener.  Bleh!

Other than the tastelessness factor, the problem with all this fake food is that it perpetuates the idea that Thanksgiving is about bingeing on food.  If you can make the food with fake ingredients, then you can binge guilt-free.  No wonder lots of the recipes have “guilt free” in the title.  As if eating real food should make you feel guilty.  That’s a very twisted way to think about food, especially food served on a national holiday.

Here’s my advice for making Thanksgiving healthier – eat smaller portions of real food.  Even then, if you eat a few more calories than normal, so what.  Just go back to your normal eating pattern on Friday; add some exercise over the weekend.  Here are some other tips that help you enjoy real food on Thanksgiving, or at any other holiday meal:

  • Make sure your Thanksgiving meal has at least one green vegetable dish, preferably 2.  A salad plus green beans, or raw vegetable sticks plus sauteed broccoli and cauliflower.  Forget creamy or cheesy sauces – who ever needs that on vegetables?
  • Don’t bother with appetizers.  Honestly, who needs cheese and crackers before a big meal?  No one.  If you must serving something, serve fresh fruit slices.
  • Use small plates, and small serving spoons for the dressing, gravy and potatoes.
  • Do not heap big portions on your plate or anyone else’s plate, if you’re serving.  Do not automatically dish out second helpings.  Don’t let anyone else heap second helpings on your plate.
  • It’s OK not to clean your plate.  If you’re full, stop eating.
  • Volunteer to cut the pie(s), and cut small slivers.  This is a good defensive action, if you’re with family members who are likely to serve up giant pieces.  A 9-inch pie can easily be cut into 16 or 20 slivers, instead of the typical 8 big pieces.  If someone really wants more, they can take a second piece.
  • Watch the liquid calories: juice, cider, beer, wine, milk, soda pop.  Serve/drink water with the meal, so you don’t need to quench your thirst with caloric beverages.

Above all, enjoy the food.  Stop feeling guilty about real food.

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