Swapping foods can help keep off Thanksgiving pounds

HOUSTON – The Thanksgiving version of "Eat this, not that" says gorging on delicious food triggers hormones that make you feel good, which also makes you want to keep eating.

If you do that, dieticians warn, it's possible to gain several pounds on Thanksgiving alone.

Your body starts to prime for digestion the minute you smell food, making you hungry,. If you're not careful, you could consume way too much before you get to the main meal.

Kelsey-Seybold registered dietician Ronda Elsenbrook says instead of chips, crackers or other crunchy calorie traps, use veggies.

“You can replace any kind of cut up vegetables and then you can still add a complimentary dip if you want or hummus,” she said.

With countless carbs, Elsenbrook suggests using cauliflower, which can be used as an easy swap for mashed potatoes or casseroles.

“Finely chopped, you can mimic rice or you can blend it up more smoothly and make fake potatoes,” Elsenbrook said. “Instead of a half cup of mashed potatoes at 15 grams of carbohydrates, your cauliflower, a whole cup, would only be about five grams.”

Slice a squash with a potato peeler and use this in place of pasta.

“The texture is going to be a little bit lighter, Elsenbrook said. "It's not as dense, but it’s got good, mild flavor so anything you add to it is going to compliment.”

If everyone around you is eating, it will be hard to stay in tune with feeling full, making it harder to stop eating. However, if you overdo it on Thanksgiving, don't keep repeating the mistake in the days to come.

Elsenbrook says to use portabella mushrooms instead of buns for sandwiches.

“They make a nice compliment and add some extra vegetables and extra nutrients.”

She said we should view this holiday as a sampling of foods we love, avoid full portions of everything on the assembly line and replace carbs with veggies to keep blood sugar down.

Elsenbrook said portions should not be larger than the palm of your hand for carbs, your fist for meat, and she said it's never a good idea to starve yourself, going to dinner hungry just increases the odds of overeating.