Healthy Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! I know I’m looking forward to it. 🙂 In order to get yourself ready for the holiday eating frenzy, I thought I would share this helpful little article I wrote up for a work newsletter!

Photo courtesy of myrecipes.com

“Just imagine, the dining table is set with the best china and the tastiest dishes of the season.  The turkey is roasted to perfection and flanked by creamy mashed potatoes and green bean casserole;  crunchy, sweet potato casserole sits beside the cranberry sauce; homemade pies like pumpkin, apple, and decadent pecan are all piled high with clouds of creamy whipped topping. Are you drooling yet? The holidays are such a wonderful time of the year! With so much delicious food around, it is no wonder weight loss is at the top of everyone’s New Year’s resolutions. Is it possible to enjoy all of our favorite, festive holiday foods without adding inches to our waists? YES! Here is a guide on how to savor the flavors of the season without falling off the diet band hay wagon.

  • Before heading to the table to “dig in”, drink a glass of water. Drinking a full glass of water can make you feel less hungry at the start, so you keep your portions in control.
  • Try starting your meal with a large salad. Filling up on low calorie vegetables means you are less likely to overeat the rich foods at the rest of the meal.
  • Control your portions! By serving yourself appropriate portions of your favorite dinner dishes, you can save yourself a lot of calories. Try using a smaller plate so it looks full without distorting portion sizes.
  • Make only one trip to the dinner table. Fill your plate with all of your holiday favorites. Eat slowly and enjoy each bite.
  • Skip the dinner roll! You will save yourself up to 150 Calories (roll + butter) by doing just that. Just think, to burn that extra 150 Calories you’d have to walk at a brisk pace for at least 35 minutes!
  • Bring your own healthier versions of side dishes to share. For example, a cup of steamed green beans seasoned with garlic and pepper have only 44 Calories and no fat. Compared that to the 110 Calories and 8 grams of fat in only 2/3 cup of green bean casserole.
  • For dessert, go ahead and enjoy a slice your most favorite homemade pie. However, just limit yourself to one slice. The one pie to watch out for? Pecan! One slice (1/8 of a 9″ pie) contains 503 Calories and 27 grams of fat compared to the 316 Calories and 14 grams of fat in a piece of pumpkin. You can save almost 200 calories by choosing the pumpkin!
Now, here’s an example of how to implement these tips for the actual Thanksgiving day meal.

The Usual
The Improved Healthy Twist
6 oz. Roasted Turkey = 230 kcals, 1.2 g fat
1 cup Mashed Potatoes = 237 kcals, 8.8 g fat
2/3 cup Green Bean Casserole = 110 kcals, 8 g fat
¼ cup Cranberry Sauce = 110 kcals, 0 g fat
½ cup Turkey Gravy = 125 kcals, 5.7 g fat
2 oz. Stuffing = 320 kcals, 2 g fat
1 cup Sweet Potato Casserole = 235 kcals, 11 g fat
1 Dinner roll = 84 kcals, 2 g fat
2 pats butter = 72 kcals, 8.1 g fat
1 ½ cup tossed salad = 33 kcals, 0 g fat
2 tbsp Italian dressing = 86 kcals, 8.3 g fat
3 oz. Roasted Turkey = 115 kcals, 0.6 g fat
¼ cup Cranberry Sauce = 110 kcals, 0 g fat
½ cup Green Bean Casserole = 57 kcals, 4.2 g fat
½ cup Sweet Potato Casserole = 117 kcals, 5.5 g fat
½ cup mashed potatoes = 119 kcals, 4.4 g fat
1 oz. Stuffing = 160 kcals, 2.9 g fat
½ cup Turkey Gravy = 125 kcals, 5.7 g fat
Grand total for meal = 1523 kcals, 46.8 g fat
Grand total for meal = 922 kcals, 31.6 g fat

 As you can see, starting your meal with a large salad  will help you eat less of the more rich dishes in the meal without feeling deprived. In the end, you can eat up to 600 calories less at the meal; that’s equal to a double bacon cheeseburger!
One more thing to keep in mind? Don’t let all this calorie counting get you down. Remember, the real reason for the season is to enjoy quality time with family and friends and reflect on the things in your life that you are truly thankful for; not worrying about every calorie that you eat. :-)”
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