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Enjoy Thanksgiving Without Being Stuffed!

Enjoy Thanksgiving Without Being Stuffed!

by Tanja M. Shaw, Contributor to Exercise/Fitness on

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy a long weekend with friends, family and, of course, food. While you may be looking forward to this year’s feast, a festive dinner can cause concern for anyone watching their waistline … and for good reason. The calories in a typical holiday feast can quickly add up, totaling up to 2000 or even 3000 calories in a single sitting. Unless you are planning on offset the calories by completing a marathon on Sunday, stick to proper portion sizes and make smarter choices to prevent the post-holiday bulge.

Here are some tips to enjoy your Thanksgiving feast without feeling like a stuffed turkey.

Exercise. A half hour brisk walk, jog, or circuit workout will burn off some of the extra calories and keep you thinking of your health. Many people are more likely to want to eat healthy foods after working out.

Have breakfast. Don’t starve yourself to save up for dinner. Instead, eat a protein rich breakfast, such as Greek yogurt and berries, a protein shake, or an egg on toast. A small, healthy lunch will also keep you satisfied until dinner – making you less likely to overindulge.

Eat your greens. Veggies are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are also very low in calories when prepared with health in mind. Opt for steamed or boiled vegetables such as beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots or corn, or a side salad. Save 200 calories by skipping the butter.

Enjoy the starches (mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, dinner rolls) in moderation. Half a cup of stuffing has about 200 calories, while a cup of mashed potatoes has between 175 and 250 calories, depending on how much butter was added. A cup of boiled yams has 158 calories. Three quarters of a cup of candied yams has 335 calories, the same number of calories burned during a 5k run. If you are hosting dinner, use butter sparingly while making the side dishes. If you are a guest, limit yourself to two half cup portions of starches to finish your supper feeling comfortably full and not wishing you had an elastic waistband.

Use the extras sparingly. Unless you want to add a few hundred extra calories to your dinner, be careful with sauces. If your gravy is made with cream and turkey fat, you may be packing away up to 60 calories per tablespoon – and remember that a tablespoon isn’t very much. Enjoy a bit of gravy with your meal, not the other way around. A low-fat version of the real thing can be made with vegetable stock, using corn starch or tapioca as a thickening agent. Use cranberry sauce sparingly as well. Just because it is low in fat doesn’t mean it’s low in calories!

Eat until you are satisfied – not stuffed. Not only will your pants still fit, but you will avoid being uncomfortably full. You can always enjoy your leftovers for lunch the next day, or make weekday meals from the extra turkey.

Taste – don’t inhale – your dessert. When you are stuffed with food, an array of tempting desserts inevitably appear on the table. You don’t have to be an expert in nutrition to know that cheesecake and pumpkin pie is not low-calorie fare. If you fancy dessert, enjoy a sample of your favorite dessert, but don’t feel obligated to polish your plate. If you would rather not indulge, but do not want to offend your host, request to take a piece to go.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Fitness, Food, Holidays, Thanksgiving, , , , , , ,

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6:01PM PST on Nov 9, 2012

good ideas

4:07AM PST on Nov 28, 2011

Thanks for sharing.

8:51PM PST on Nov 25, 2011

Smaller portions are the easiest way to diet without ever feeling deprived. Thanks for posting

6:35PM PST on Nov 25, 2011


1:01PM PST on Nov 25, 2011

We don't celebrete Thanksgiving in Ireland, but the rules are still the same , smaller portions and MORE exercise, sometimes it's hard to get motivated.

9:01AM PST on Nov 25, 2011

Smaller portions are definitely the key. Thanks!

1:04AM PST on Nov 25, 2011

thanks for sharing

10:37PM PST on Nov 24, 2011

Small portions work best for me. We also take a walk after
thanksgiving meal. Best is if you remember that there will
be plenty of leftovers for meals and snacks for a few days!

4:00PM PST on Nov 24, 2011

My Thanksgiving menu: One baked sweet potato with a smidge of butter. Raw organic spinach, about a cup. One organic hard boiled egg, plain. Earlier in the day I ate: 1 apple at breakfast. A few crackers with hommus in the middle of the afternoon. Tonight for a snack I will eat a Kashi flaxseed and almond bar. That is it!! I eat like this all the time, every day. Oops I forgot, I did have a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter somewhere in my day:)

3:35PM PST on Nov 24, 2011

Im wanted to know more about this celebration; in my country not all people used to celebrate

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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