Avoid all the Thanksgiving pitfalls, from bloating to the post-meal crash.
You’ve already heard the praises about the Mediterranean diet and how it may improve your health and reduce your risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. The emphasis on whole foods, fiber-rich produce and grains, and mindful eating are also great for digestion and weight management.
If you’re trying to eat a little more Mediterranean, why stop on Thanksgiving? Including more whole grains and non-starchy veggies can help avoid all the big Thanksgiving pitfalls—overeating, bloating, and the post-meal crash.
For starters, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole grains over refined grains. The latter has been heavily processed to remove some of the most nutritious parts of the grain, including the fiber. Add more whole grains to your Thanksgiving menu with the following tips:
1. Swap half the bread in your stuffing recipe with whole-wheat bread.
2. Mix a whole grain into your stuffing, like quinoa or wild rice. You can even use cauliflower rice.
3. Make or buy whole-wheat dinner rolls instead of white.
Another key component to the Mediterranean diet is legumes and pulses. These lean proteins don’t have all the saturated fat that turkey does, and it’s got lots of fiber that might help you eat less. Incorporate more beans into your Thanksgiving menu with these tips:
4. Make a “lentil loaf” as your Thanksgiving entree. It combines beans, nuts, seeds, and grains to make a flavorful, nutritious, faux meatloaf.
5. Serve hummus instead of ranch on the veggie tray.
6. Puree white beans into your butternut squash soup (or any pureed soup).
One of the most famous aspects of the Mediterranean diet is its emphasis on heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Spoiler: That’s not the kind of fat that you’ll find in turkey and gravy. Replace saturated fats with healthier fats with these tips:
7. Cook and season with olive oil—in moderation—instead of butter.
8. Top your sweet potato casserole with nuts instead of marshmallows.
Another way to season food the Mediterranean way is with fresh herbs and spices. This can help you cut back on butter and salt without sacrificing flavor. Try these herb-loving tricks for your Thanksgiving menu:
9. Flavor mashed potatoes with garlic, sage, and thyme instead of butter and salt.
10. Roast carrots with parsley, thyme, and oregano instead of honey and butter.
And most importantly, the Mediterranean diet goes beyond what’s on the plate. One component that often goes overlooked is eating leisurely and mindfully with friends and family. Sure, Thanksgiving may be a feast—but it doesn’t have to be a sprint. Eating too quickly can increase the chances that you’ll eat more than you intended. Learn more about the benefits of eating more slowly.
No matter what you serve, enjoy the food and be thankful for a holiday weekend—without a belly ache.
Want more Thanksgiving tips?
Daily tips to help your family eat better. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on October 29, 2019 at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/daily-tips-to-help-your-family-eat-better.)
Mediterranean diet. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on October 29, 2019 at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet.)
Saturated fat. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on October 29, 2019 at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats.)
Thanksgiving grains for every course. Boston, MA: Whole Grains Council, 2015. (Accessed on October 29 at https://wholegrainscouncil.org/blog/2015/11/thanksgiving-grains-every-course.)
The benefits of beans and legumes. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on October 29, 2019 at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/the-benefits-of-beans-and-legumes.)
Whole grains, refined grains, and dietary fiber. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on October 29, 2019 at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/whole-grains-refined-grains-and-dietary-fiber.)