The holiday season is here again, and it’s time to share food and drink with friends and family. Thanksgiving is the kickoff for all things warm and festive, but celebrating with a food intolerance or needing to steer clear of sugar for other health reasons is always difficult when meals are prepared by someone else.
It doesn’t help that many traditional Thanksgiving dishes are full of sugar. Short of taking your own food to eat, you have some options when checking out the choices on the table. You just need to know what to skip, what to limit, and what to eat instead.
Cranberry sauce is a holiday favorite and staple on most Thanksgiving tables. Canned cranberry sauce has about 22 grams of sugar in a ½ inch thick slice, which is about ? of the can. Other store-bought versions can have as much as 30 grams of sugar or 4 tablespoons. That’s a lot of sugar for a small portion of food. Less sugary versions can be made at home, but they are very tart and not as palatable as the sweeter versions.
So cranberry sauce is one of those foods that is best avoided altogether if dietary sugar is an issue for you. Unsweetened applesauce is a better alternative if you would like something sweet to accompany the turkey. A ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce contains 10 grams of sugar, which is half the amount of sugar in cranberry sauce.
Sweet potatoes can be made many ways, but on Thanksgiving sweet potatoes are most likely loaded with other ingredients. Unless the sweet potatoes are baked plain, chances are they contain brown sugar, honey, butter, and marshmallows on top. Yes, sweet potatoes are delicious prepared this way, but the sugar content is 30 grams for less than a cup of sweet potato casserole. It’s best to skip this one and opt for mashed potatoes.
Corn pudding is another Thanksgiving dish that is packed with sugar. Most homemade versions contain about 17 grams of added sugar. Choosing a serving of green-bean casserole in place of corn pudding is a safer option. Green-bean casserole is often found on the menu for Thanksgiving and a ¾ cup serving is only 2.7 grams of sugar. So skip the corn and go green. Dishes made with zucchini or squash are also fantastic low-sugar choices in place of the sweeter casseroles and puddings.
The dessert table is all about the sugar. Whether it’s pumpkin pie, apple pie, bread pudding, or brownies, sugar is going to most likely be the top ingredient. Both apple pie and pumpkin pie have over 20 grams of sugar per slice. So, bringing a dessert to the meal may be appropriate. Your low-sugar dessert serves as both a gift to the hosts and provides an alternative for those seeking a healthier dessert option.
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a day to dread and worry about not feeling well. By preparing ahead of time and making good choices, it can truly be a day of thanks, gratitude, and fun. Happy Thanksgiving!
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