The holiday season is a hard time to be dieting. Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinners and desserts, Christmas baked goods, hams, special treats–the resolve to lose weight goes out with the fall leaves. Overweight kids have an especially difficult time at holidays. But there’s hope. I lost over 100 pounds, through holiday binges. Here are Thanksgiving recipe tweaks to help your child stay the course and still enjoy the feasting.
Use low-sodium alternatives Salt is one of the biggest diet killers and Thanksgiving foods are filled with it. Self-basting turkeys are loaded with salt and fat. So choose a game bird that’s not pre-basted. Baste with Bragg’s Liquid Amino and zero-calorie non-stick cooking spray. Encourage your child to eat white meat. It’s denser, more filling and lower in fat and salt. Serve water to drink. Make your own broth for stuffing and gravy with Spike or Mrs. Dash salt-free seasonings. Substitute salt for fresh herbs and spices: rosemary, pepper, thyme, dill, oregano, marjoram and sage. Use less bread and more celery, green peppers, onions, carrots, apples, chestnuts and scallions in stuffing.
Serve lots of nutritious, filling vegetable entrees. Cover your buffet with dishes cram-packed with green and wax beans, Brussels sprouts, salad, squash, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes. Encourage your child to fill his plate with these. Yes, I said potatoes. I know, they’ve gotten a bad rap. But that’s only when potatoes are drowned in milk and butter and covered with sour cream and gravy. Bake or roast potatoes, Top with sliced potatoes with fat-free feta or low-fat Parmesan cheese, garlic, dill, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice and bake. Serve with Greek yogurt instead of topping–just as tasty and half the calories. Swap sweet potatoes for yams or squash. Omit marshmallows and cut brown sugar. Sweeten with pineapple, apples or bananas. Add lowfat yogurt butter. Kids don’t like Brussels sprouts? Try roasting in olive oil and garlic. They’ll rethink those nutrition packed veggies in a hurry!
Make homemade desserts. What would Thanksgiving be without apple, mincemeat and pumpkin pies? Don’t force dieting kids go without. Make homemade fruit pies and reduce the sugar. Use Splenda, xylitol, 100 percent fruit juice or pure maple syrup. Use light butter and lemon juice and whole grain flour. Swap out dairy for almond milk, cream for Greek yogurt, eggs for milled flax seed and oil for applesauce. Substitute reduced-calorie topping (actually, topping doesn’t have many calories, so it’s a low-impact way to satisfy a sweet tooth). Make pumpkin custard instead of pie. Omit crust and spray pan with cooking spray. Use almond or coconut milk instead of condensed milk. Make cranberry sauce with less sugar (recipes usually call for too much sugar anyway). Use 70-percent or higher fat-burning chocolate over milk chocolate. Bake with peanut and almond butter–natural fat burners.
To best help a child lose weight, teach him moderation. Don’t push calorie-counting too much during the holidays. It just makes cravings worse. Don’t avoid serving holiday treats. Kids have to learn to handle temptation and to make mindful choices.