Thanksgiving Dinner Survival Guide

  • Published
  • By Shannan Bergtholdt
  • 49th Medical Group Health And Wellness Center
Did you know the average American eats over 3,000 calories at Thanksgiving? Yikes! That's nearly double what most people need in a day.

But let's face it; the very sound of sugar-free, low-fat pumpkin pie doesn't hold the same appeal as the traditional homemade version.

Thanksgiving doesn't have to mark the annual spiral of defeat in all of your dietary hard work. Here are some simple, practical ways to dial down the decadence and still eat what you like on Thanksgiving:

· Set yourself up for success. Have a plan of attack for the day. Don't skip breakfast to save room for dinner. You'll be more likely to overeat later in the day.

· Fit in fitness. Go for a walk with the family. Strike up a family game of touch football. Anything you can do to be active is important.

· What's in your glass? Liquid calories add up quickly over the holidays. At approximately 180 calories per glass of wine and 150 calories per beer, moderating alcohol intake is a simple way to cut calories.

· Football fans snacking away on the couch? Help them eat less without even thinking about it by making them serve their snacks on a plate. They will eat about 20-25 percent less simply because they are not eating from the bag or box.

· Trade that dinner "platter" for a smaller plate. Eating from a smaller plate can save calories. In one study done with ice cream, people served 30 percent more ice cream into a larger bowl versus a small bowl. You can save calories without modifying a single recipe!

· Instead of injecting your turkey with butter, try rubbing herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme on top and under the skin for added flavor without the fat.

· Cook stuffing separately. Stuffing inside the turkey absorbs the fat from the cooked turkey. Try cooking the stuffing with chicken broth instead of water for additional flavor.

· Lean, mean green beans! Opt for the fresh beans and season with olive oil and herbs. Or if you are making casserole, substituting low fat sour cream or plain yogurt will save you 50 calories per serving.

· Are you willing to run three miles to burn off the calories in one slice of pumpkin pie? If pie is a non-negotiable treat for you, then enjoy! Have one serving and maybe skip the whipped cream. If you want a simple way to cut calories and fat, without compromising taste, try using low fat sweetened condensed milk.

· If you can remember nothing else, know that one day of overindulgence doesn't have to sabotage your healthy eating habits. Have a plan, find a way to fit in fitness and savor the time you can spend with the people around you.

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this article is not intended to take the place of medical advice. If you'd like to speak to a registered dietitian, contact the HAWC at 575-572-5785.