When it comes to Thanksgiving most people gear up for the meal of the year. Some of us are excited by the idea of eating all those yummy foods, while others are dreading the way they’ll feel afterwards. According to the Caloric Control Council, the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone.

So what happens to all those extra calories? The extra calories are stored up as fat.

3,500 calories= 1 LBS of fat, so at an average of 4,500 calories consumed,

most Americans will gain at least 1 pound on Thanksgiving.

Though a one-pound gain may seem harmless, researchers found that with 85% of people the extra weight sticks. Gaining one extra pound each year can add up significantly, especially if it ends up sticking around forever.

With a little pre-planning, you can have a healthy and happy holiday. 

Here are some great tips to help you stay on track…

  •  Eat Throughout the Day: Most people make the mistake if starving themselves all day because they know they are going to overeat at dinner. You are less likely to overeat if you have your appetite under control. Eat a healthy breakfast and a light lunch with low calorie snacks throughout the day.

  • Have a Strategy: The football players aren’t the only one’s who need a game plan on turkey day. Think about what you’re going to eat. If you can’t resist a huge slice of pumpkin pie, what will you cut back on to compensate for it?
  • If you’re Hosting: Buy some inexpensive plastic containers and send your guests home with the leftovers. Another option is to freeze your leftovers immediately. This way you’ll eat them over a few weeks as oppose to all in one week.
  • Drink Plenty of Water: Water helps control your appetite by making you feel full faster.
  • Enjoy Every Morsel: It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you’re full. So, savor your food, drink lots of water and slow down. Give your mind a chance to catch up with your body.
  • Eat the Special Stuff: Don’t blow your precious calories on large portions of food you can eat everyday. Fill your plate with smaller portions of your holiday favorites.
  • Avoid Finger Foods: Most of this holiday’s calories don’t come from the actually dinner but from the all-day snacking in front of the TV while watching parades and sporting events. Hor d’oeurves can be high in calories and fat. Try your best to stay away!
  • Stop When You’re Full: If you eat slowly and drink plenty of water with your meal, you shouldn’t feel the need to go for seconds.
  • Drink Alcohol in Moderation: Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which makes it that much easier to justify a third helping of stuffing.
  • Walk It Off: Instead of plopping down on the couch after dinner, grab the family and go for a walk. It’ll be nice family time, and will help burn off some of those calories.
  • Don’t Use Exercise as an Excuse to Indulge: So many of us think: “Oh, I workout so I can eat this extra piece of pie.” A 145-pound woman has to run a mile at 6 mph to burn 116 calories, but she can eat 116 calories in under a second.

Here is a little run down of some Thanksgiving favs. The trick is to make the right choices…

Turkey Turkey is a great source of protein. Dark meat is slightly higher in fat than white meat but contains lot more nutrients than the white stuff, so try a mix of both on your plate. Take off the skin since it holds the majority of the fat. If you are the one doing the cooking try baking as oppose to deep-frying your bird, and cooking with less or low fat butter.

Stuffing Stuffing may be the number one culprit behind holiday weight gain, and can contain up to 500 calories per serving depending on how it’s prepared. One way to make stuffing healthier is not to stuff it into the turkey. Stuffing gets a lot of it’s fat content from being in the bird. Other suggestions are leaving out the meat, using chicken stock (adding it slowly) instead of fat, putting small amounts of butter on the surface of the stuffing before cooking, using regular bread in place of corn bread, and adding vegetables like celery, onions, apples or pears to the dish.

Potatoes Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A. The killer is the marshmallows you put on top. Try using healthier flavoring instead like cinnamon or ginger. For mashed potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes are great because they naturally have a lot of flavor compared to other varieties so they don’t need a lot of add-ons. Making mashed potatoes with skim milk instead of cream can save you up to 70 calories.

Vegetables Vegetables are always recommended as a healthy part of a balanced diet, but most Thanksgiving vegetable dishes contain high amounts of cream, butter and salt. Remember, most of the traditional recipes we use were created in the 1950’s, and so they are quite outdated when it comes to healthy choices. Try updating vegetables with some new modern recipes! If you are a guest, bring a healthy vegetable dish yourself. That way you can guarantee that at least the vegetables on your plate are a healthy choice.

Cranberry Sauce Cranberry sauce can be laden with too much sugar. Try making it yourself and replacing sugar with a sugar substitute like Splenda. Replacing 1 cup of sugar with a substitute can save you approximately 750 calories!

Pumpkin Pie If you love the pumpkin pie, either take a small wedge or consider just eating the filling. The crust is where you get a lot of your calories. Remember that the holidays are about more than just stuffing your face. It’s about family, friends, and gratitude. Make good choices, eat in moderation and keep moving.

Happy Turkey Day!

Check out some great healthy fall recipes.


Sources: abcnews.go.com,  mahalo.com

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