Rather than stressing out about your Thanksgiving indulgences, Sarasota’s Rebecca Henson, a registered dietician, recommends a practical, pragmatic approach that lets you enjoy the holiday without getting down on yourself. Her chocolate chip pumpkin bars (recipe below) fall right in line with her philosophy: high fiber, nutrient dense, and lower glycemic index—plus they’re vegan, “so no worries if you like to lick the bowl!” she says.
Here are more of Henson’s tips for a positive, plentiful Thanksgiving.
Stick to a Sensible Routine
We know there’s a lot happening on the day, but try to get in a healthy breakfast before things get too hectic. “If you eat later in the day, have a healthy snack before the meal so that you’re not heading into the big spread starving,” says Henson. “You’ll be less likely to overeat so quickly that you’ll regret it later.”
Celebrate Traditional Ingredients
“Traditional Thanksgiving foods are really quite healthy: turkey, sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables, and it’s even easy to make a delicious, pretty healthy apple dessert or pumpkin dessert,” she explains. “You can make healthy mashed potatoes by using Yukon golds—they’re very creamy and buttery without all the cream and butter.” She also suggests looking for stuffing recipes that use farro or whole grains.
Get (a Little) Physical
You may not be in the mood for a full-on workout, but a little time on your feet can work wonders. “Consider incorporating some sort of movement into the day,” she says. “A family walk after the meal is a great way to help with digestion, decrease bloating, and balance blood sugar.”
Don’t Overthink It
In the end, the stakes aren’t really all that high. “You can also just eat whatever you want that day,” says Henson. “One meal one day a year is not going to break the bank.”
Rebecca Henson’s Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup almond milk
2 cups almond butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Stir all ingredients together and spread into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center of the pan. Great for freezing and reheating anytime.