It’s no wonder that according to University of Alabama at Birmingham dietitian Ashley Delk, the average American consumes around 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving—that’s three times the recommended daily allowance.
And though Thanksgiving comes only once a year, it’s followed by more calorie-rich holiday feasts. Some studies show that the average person gains five pounds over the holidays, and even if we make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, many of us never do.
So yes, Thanksgiving is a splurge, and we don’t want to have to be counting our calories along with our blessings, but here are a few tips that can help:
Don’t sit down at the Thanksgiving table hungry. You’ll be less likely to stuff yourself if you have a snack about half an hour before dinner is served.
Eat only the foods that you really like. Don’t feel obligated to take a serving of dishes that aren’t your favorites.
Be portion savvy. Does Grandma’s holiday china feature those huge dinner plates? Use a salad plate instead. And help yourself to just a bit of each offering.
Go easy on the gravy. It’s almost pure fat, and can double the calories of your meal.
Choose fresh, steamed or roasted veggies, rather than in a casserole with added fat and sodium. Traditional favorites like brussel sprouts, green beans, sweet potatoes and corn are healthy and low in fat before we add all the bad stuff.
Pumpkin pie is a good choice, rather than apple or mincemeat—and remember that pecan pie is by far the most calorie-laden at over 500 calories per slice. Whatever pie you opt for, just ask for a sliver rather than a full serving.
Watch what you drink. Go easy on the alcohol; sip sparkling water instead. And don’t forget that a cup of eggnog has up to 400 calories—comparable to having a second slice of pie!
Save it for later. A full Thanksgiving feast is for sure a delicious tradition! Remember that leftovers are just as yummy. Make a plate to enjoy while doing your Black Friday shopping.
It’s not just about the food. Be sure to schedule some physical activity over the Thanksgiving holidays—other than lifting your fork. Rather than collapsing on the couch to chat with family, head out for a brisk group walk.