Newsflash! Thanksgiving is one of top calorie consuming holidays of the year. Not surprised? This holiday is meant to be a time of reflection. It’s a time to give thanks for the family we have, the life that we made for ourselves, and a time to stop to enjoy our family and friends.
Sounds good so far? Well, yes, we always have good intentions, but when food is involved, and there is social pressure to consume, that’s when it gets difficult. Many times, we eat not only to satisfy hunger, but we are driven by other influences. For example:
• Grandma makes a mean sweet potato casserole, how can I offend her by not eating it?
• Uncle Steve makes a delicious turkey with gravy; I couldn’t only have one slice?
• Mom always makes the most amazing butternut squash soup, but it tastes even better with a dollop of sour cream on top! And, I didn’t even get to dessert!
There are simple ways to manage your calories during the holiday, with very little effort. Lara Field, registered dietitian and pediatric nutrition specialist, gives us her top tips for enjoying the holiday, while managing your weight at the same time.
1) Think about the big FIVE: Fruits, vegetables, meats/proteins, grains/starches, and dairy. Meals should include ONE serving from each of these groups. Just one. So, when we are talking about dinner rolls, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn (all starches, I may add), it is important to have a few bites of each rather than a half-cup portion of each.
2) Fill up your plate with vegetables. Sautéed Brussels sprouts, steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus; these are just a few examples of delicious options alongside the bird. Other family not big vegetable fans? Make it yourself; offer to bring a vegetable dish or a salad to be served with dinner. Vegetables are nature’s perfect food; low in calories, high in fiber. Vegetables fill you up and aid in your digestion.
3) Taste everything, but eat a small amount. Enjoy the amazing flavors of Thanksgiving, but don’t overdo it. See following chart, which shows how calories add up quickly. Check out this excellent tool to track how quickly calories add up!
4) Don’t starve yourself prior to your Thanksgiving meal. Research shows the longer between eating occasions, the more inclined you are to overeat at the next meal. Thus, eat a good breakfast to start your day right, even if you know you are having a big meal in the evening. Fasting not only causes your brain to function on an unfavorable energy source, but also skews your judgment on hunger/fullness cues.
5) Take time to exercise. Go for a family walk after dinner, seek out a 5K race in your area, strike up a ping-pong match with a relative.
Consider these tips this Thanksgiving, in addition to other holidays. Be thankful for your current health, and think about making SMALL changes that may make a BIG impact during this holiday season.
Sample Thanksgiving Dinner:
One glass of wine
One cracker with cheese
Six ounces of white and dark turkey
Half a cup of stuffing Half a cup of cranberry sauce
Half a cup of mashed potatoes
Half a cup of gravy
Half a cup of sautéed green beans
Half a cup of candied sweet potatoes
A dinner roll
A pat of butter
Half a cup of fresh fruit
One slice of pumpkin pie
Grand Total = 1795 calories
You will need to walk 17.95 miles, 28.95 kilometers, or 35,900 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.