Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gobble, Gobble . . . But Not Literally!

Thanksgiving is a week from today, and this means we’re going to be gobbling. The average Thanksgiving meal, without seconds, adds up to about 3,000 calories—and you’ll need to walk about 29 miles to burn those calories. Sorry. Call us the “Thanksgiving Grinch.”

We all know, as wonderful as they are, the holidays can also be a stressful time. For each of us, this means something different, and we all deal with it in different ways. Many of us comfort ourselves with food, and no doubt about it, this is the “food season.” With parties, gifts of food, and holiday dinners, it’s especially hard not to gain weight, let alone lose any. Remember, the holidays are for enjoying good times with friends and loved ones. During the holidays, the key is avoiding weight gain!

Recognize your triggers. Holiday food IS tempting. Enjoy friendly conversation away from the dessert table. Engaged in good conversation, you will be less likely to excuse yourself and go across the room for dessert. And you don’t need to deny your sweet tooth entirely. Look for a lighter desert, or take just a small portion. A few bites taste just as good as half the pie.

So, as the season of eating creeps upon us, we thought we’d offer a few tips and gentle reminders:

  • Portion size: ½ cup of mashed potatoes, about 111 calories—the size of a computer mouse; ½ cup cornbread stuffing about 175 calories; 3.5 oz. serving of roasted turkey breast (white meat without skin), about 115 calories—the size of a deck of cards; 3.5 oz. dark meat with skin, about 221 calories. Now think about the sides: gravy, rolls, butter, green bean casserole, pecan pie with whipped cream—and appetizers. Can you imagine how your plate looks?
  • Quality vs. quantity: So let’s go back to the dinner described above. Pay attention to portion size, but also to healthy choices. White meat is leaner with less fat and fewer calories. Leave the skin on your plate. Substitute a homemade cranberry relish for canned cranberry sauce with high fructose corn syrup. Go lighter on the gravy. Try non-candied sweet potatoes and leave out the melted marshmallows. And keep in mind that pumpkin pie has just 1/3 the calories of pecan pie (and leave off the mountain of whipped cream—instead try a teaspoon spread across the top—same taste, fewer calories and fat).
  • In addition to the dinner portion of the day, try to organize a big before or after dinner walk. It’s an opportunity to socialize away from the food, rev-up your metabolism and work some physical activity into your day.

Now that we’ve effectively spoiled your holiday meal, let us say in all sincerity, “Have a wonderful (and healthy) Thanksgiving!”

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