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How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Without Piling On the Pounds

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How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Without Piling On the Pounds

As we approach Thanksgiving we think of all the traditional foods we enjoy: turkey, dressing, potatoes, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and many more. Did you know the average Thanksgiving meal can pack on an extra 3,500 calories? That is equal to one pound!

Since Thanksgiving is the official start of the food-centered holiday season, you can imagine what might happen to your waistline by the end of the holidays. Instead find out from Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian, Amber Odom, RD, LD, how to enjoy the foods you love and make new traditions without compromising your nutrition goals.


Have a Plan

  • Set a realistic goal. Whether you are trying to lose weight or not, your goal should be to maintain your weight during the holiday.

  • Limit the Thanksgiving meal to one meal, don’t allow yourself to feast on leftovers the next day or days after.

Preparing for Turkey Day

  • Snack before the big meal. If you arrive too hungry, you might stuff yourself at the dinner table. Start your day with a healthy meal including fiber to keep you feeling full. Try oatmeal topped with berries, whole wheat sandwich or salad with some lean protein.

  • Steer clear from sampling. If you are the cook (and even if you’re not), sampling and nibbling adds up. It can even add up to a meal’s worth of calories or more!

  • Keep a food journal. This is your accountability and a powerful tool when you want to go back for seconds or feel tempted to have more dessert.

  • Incorporate some kind of exercise. Start a new family tradition with a walk or a bike ride in the morning. What a great way to start your Thanksgiving Day!

Turkey Time

  • Don’t overdue the appetizers. Stick to something healthy such as veggies, fresh fruit and boiled shrimp.

  • Scan the table and only choose the foods you love. Don’t eat foods just because they’re there. Save your calories for the food you truly enjoy.

  • Limit yourself to one plate and try to keep it balanced (1/2 plate veggies, 1/4 plate lean meat and 1/4 plate starch).

  • Enjoy higher-calorie food in smaller portions. Practice moderation, not deprivation.

  • Eat slowly and savor every bite. Remember the 20 minute rule: you need at least this much time to feel full.

  • Enjoy a small serving of dessert. If you choose pumpkin over pecan you can save a couple hundred calories. If you absolutely love both, then have a sliver of each to equal the size of one slice of pie.

When the Feast is Over

  • Take a walk, go for a bike ride or play at the park, especially if you didn’t have time to work in exercise before the meal.  

Enjoy sharing the foods you love and celebrating your new Thanksgiving traditions with your family and friends.

For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, click here or call 972.560.2655.