As we approach Thanksgiving we think of all the traditional foods we enjoy: turkey, dressing, potatoes, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and the list goes on. Did you know the average Thanksgiving meal can pack on an extra 3,500 calories? That is equal to 1 pound! It’s no wonder Thanksgiving leaves many of us with an extra one to two pounds. Since Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday season that is centered around food you can imagine what might happen to your waistline by the end of the holidays. This year find out how to still enjoy the foods you love and make new traditions without compromising your nutrition goals.
Have a Plan
- Set a realistic goal. Whether you are trying to lose weight or not, your goal should be to maintain your weight during the holiday.
- Limit the Thanksgiving meal to one meal, don’t allow yourself to feast on leftovers the next day or days.
Preparing for Turkey Day
- Wear something snug or tight-fitting. Stay away from the elastic! It’s too easy to have “just one more bite” when your clothes are forgiving.
- Eat before the big meal. You don’t want to be starving because then you will want to eat everything in sight. Start your day with a healthy meal including fiber to keep you feeling full (oatmeal topped with berries, whole wheat sandwich or salad with some lean protein).
- If you are the cook (and even if you’re not), sampling and nibbling adds up. It can even add up to a meal’s worth of calories or more!
- Keep a food journal. This is your accountability and a powerful tool when you are wanting to go back for seconds or feel tempted to have more dessert.
- Incorporate some kind of exercise. Start a new family tradition with a walk or a bike ride in the morning. What a great way to start your Thanksgiving Day!
- Don’t overdue the appetizers. Stick to the veggies, fresh fruit and boiled shrimp.
- Scan the table and only choose the foods you love.
- Don’t eat foods just because they’re there. Save your calories for the food you love.
- Limit yourself to one plate and try to keep it balanced (1/2 plate veggies, 1/4 plate lean protein, 1/4 plate starch).
- Enjoy higher calorie food in smaller portions…think moderation not deprivation.
- Eat slowly and savor every bite. Remember the 20 minute rule…you need at least this much time to feel full.
- Enjoy a small serving of dessert. If you choose pumpkin over pecan you can save a couple hundred calories. If you absolutely love both, then have a sliver of each to equal the size of one slice of pie. You can also eat just the filling (leaving the crust behind) to consume less calories.
- If you drink alcohol, skip the high calorie drinks like eggnog and choose a glass of wine or wine spritzer.
When the Feast is Over
- Take a walk, go for a bike ride or play at the park, especially if you didn’t have time to work in exercise before the meal.
Enjoy sharing the foods you love and celebrating your new Thanksgiving traditions with your family and friends!
Amber Odom, RDN, LD