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Ten Ways You Can Have Your Thanksgiving Pie and Eat it Too!

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If you tell yourself Thanksgiving comes only once a year as a way to justify overeating, keep in mind that most yearly weight gain happens over the three month period of time between turkey day and New Year’s Day.  The typical American eats almost 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, with 3,000 of those calories coming from the Thanksgiving dinner alone. 

Thanksgiving may look different this year for many of us, but if you’re planning to make a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, there are some ways that you can still enjoy the meal without sabotaging your waistline. No matter how you plan to spend the day, here are some tips to help satisfy your desire for this once-a-year meal guilt-free:

  1. Don’t skip breakfast in an effort to save calories. You’ll end up ravenous and more apt to overeat later.
  2. Use smaller plates. This is portion control 101.   Smaller plates mean your serving sizes automatically become smaller.  A full plate, albeit a smaller one can help give the impression that you’re not being deprived.
  3. Include more vegetables with your dinner. If you provide more veggies, you can be sure you’ll be including foods with fewer calories
  4. Aim to include one glass of water or seltzer for every glass of alcohol you consume
  5. Don’t sit or stand near tempting food, which can make it harder to resist. Additionally, after you’ve finished your meal, get up and move away from the table. Out of sight is out of mind. 
  6. Choose to enjoy small portions of your favorite foods that are special to you and available only this time of year. Take a pass on the foods that you can have any time, like dinner rolls
  7. Focus more on conversation not the food. Enjoy your company, even if it’s a smaller gathering
  8. Wait 20 minutes before considering seconds. It takes that amount of time for your stomach to send the signal to your brain that you’ve had enough to eat.
  9. Skip second helpings if you want to have dessert
  10. Create a new tradition of exercise before your meal. Gather your family and take a walk, bike ride or play a game of soccer or Frisbee in the yard.

Here is an example of how to spend your calories wisely on the big day along with visual cues to help you with your serving sizes:

Here is an example of how to spend your calories wisely on the big day along with visual cues to help you with your serving sizes. *Calories are approximate

Food Serving SizeVisual CueCalories
White meat turkey 3 ouncesDeck of cards130
Gravy¼ cup Golf ball30-50
Mashed Potatoes,white or sweet½ cupHalf of a tennis ball150
Butter1 teaspoon One die50
Stuffing½ cup Half a baseball*180
Cranberry sauce¼ cup Large egg105
Salad Greens1 cupBaseballDepends on type and amount of dressing used
Cooked Vegetable½ cupRounded handfulVaries, depending on type of veggie and preparation
Slice of Pie1/8 of a 9 inch pieStandard lightbulb*340 for Pumpkin pie, 350 for Pecan pie

Content submitted by Janyce Gately MS, RD, LDN, HC