Nutrition Articles

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Make it Through the Day...Guilt-Free

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Make it Healthy This Year
We all have that friend or family member that can eat whatever they want and never gain a pound. But the rest of us, need some tips to help cut back on the bad stuff and enjoy the holiday without guilt.

Try Revamping some of your Traditional Recipes
  • Each American consumes nearly 40 pounds of sugar (63,750 calories!) throughout the course of one year. Replacing just one cup of sugar with a sugar substitute like Splenda brand in your pies and other baked goods will save over 750 calories.
  • Use whole wheat flour instead of enriched white flour in your baked goods. You’ll save 77 calories and a prevent a spike of insulin from affecting the body. If you don’t want to replace all of your flour, use just half whole wheat and half enriched.
  • Cook with skim milk instead of whole or 2% milk. Your potatoes will be just as creamy, and you’ll save up to 70 calories.
  • Replace eggs in cooking & baking with an egg substitute like Egg Beaters brand. You’ll save 60 calories and 238 mg of cholesterol. Or, just replace half.
  • Instead of using store-bought or your traditional homemade chip dip, try this out: Use regular mayonnaise for half of the recipe, and replace the other half with reduced fat sour cream. One cup of lower-fat sour cream will provide all the flavor and texture of mayonnaise for 1,300 calories and 150 grams of fat less.
Feel the Burn! 
You can easily add a little more activity to your holiday routine to help "make up" for some of the extra calories you eat. Burn this many calories in just 10 minutes!
  • Walking at brisk pace = 54 calories
  • Heavy cleaning = 54 calories
  • Step-ups (using stairs) = 175 calories
  • Raking leaves = 40 calories
Build lean muscle and boost your metabolism even if you can’t make it to the gym by adding 10-15 reps of each of the following:
  • Squats—while you brush your teeth
  • Lunges—on each leg while you tie your shoes
  • Wall Push-Ups—before you walk out the door
  • Curls—with a can of soup or bottle of detergent
  • Plank hold—while reheating food. Hold for 30 seconds and work up to 3 minutes.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Now that you’re armed and ready, you can look forward to your time with friends, family, and food, without losing your diet momentum.

"If you know you are going to give in to temptations, making up for them with exercise and healthy choices elsewhere can keep you on track," says Coach Joe. "Be realistic on Thanksgiving and try to break even."
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Member Comments

  • MANZANAPAINT
    Okay I find it really hard to believe that Americans eat almost 700 pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving. That's more than 2 pounds a person (and I'm sure babies eat those 2 pounds as well). Anyway, my calories come from the pie :) - 11/11/2012 11:18:43 PM
  • Cook plenty of fresh autumn vegetables. That's certainly in keeping with the tradition. Roast some colorful root vegetables. Have a raw veggie tray. Try a new butternut squash soup. Yummmmm! - 11/11/2012 7:02:20 PM
  • Not only did this article really help me feel better prepared and less worried about the upcoming holidays but it also got me to thinking about something. I've of course known the 3,500 number for years, since it's important to know for weight loss, and of course we all know that it's the extra calories that get converted to fat. But it was the way this author described it that really struck me. Doing the math: I'm roughly 100 pounds over my ideal weight. This means I have 350,000 unused calories, accumulated over 23 years, sitting in my body still waiting to be used. That really painted an amazing picture for me, and not a negative one but a positive. It's time to cash in all those 350,000 calories and put them to good use! Come on, calories, sitting time is over, you've got work to do, let's go! PS I can picture all those little fat globules saying, "Finally, we get to do something, yay!!!" :) - 11/11/2012 6:11:03 PM
  • This article was really helpful and had some great reminders. I always have to tell myself to be realistic and remember, "maintaining is better than gaining".
    :) - 11/11/2012 4:31:57 PM
  • Thanksgiving and Xmas are always tough! I just remember to balance it out throughout the day within my calorie intake and I know it will all work out just fine. It takes the bricks off your shoulders when you have that in place to follow. Balance, balance, balance. :) Everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I will. - 11/11/2012 1:37:36 PM
  • Thanks for the guide it will be helpful. But I usually eat only one serving and only once through out the day of thanksgiving. - 11/11/2012 10:25:52 AM
  • The article makes excellent point about the "food coma". I have so often heard it blamed on the tryptophan in the turkey, it didn't even occur to me that it was because of just how much food is consumed. My family still does turkey at Thanksgiving, but at Christmas we stopped doing the big meal because it was just too much work. Instead we lay out a spread of simpler foods on the table so that people can get food as they want it. For me, the key is to NOT fill my plate each time I go to the table; only go to the table when I actually feel hungry; and each time I get food, half of what I take must be veggies and fruits. - 11/21/2008 11:36:16 AM
  • Happy Thanksgiving. - 11/21/2008 12:53:04 AM
  • This is my traditional Thanksgiving trick for not gaining any weight that week.
    I take 4 rubbermaid sealable plates with me to my Mom's. When I make my plate for dinner I use regular portions and I don't go back for seconds. WHY? Because when everyone is finished and I am cleaning up I make myself all 4 plates with normal protions and pack them in the cooler for the ride home.
    That way I can have another plate any time I want it and don't feel drprived from eating a normal right size portion at the main meal.
    I feel better, I don't gain and I get to enjoy that wonderful meal 4 more times and think about the wonderful conversation at the table.
    I have a guiltless Thanksgiving and Christmas this way. - 10/1/2008 4:01:15 PM
  • I'm printing this one and leaving it on the kitchen table on 'T" Day. The 4 daughters can read it while we cook! Thanks! - 11/19/2007 5:50:08 PM
  • This is a great motivator to stay on track during the T-day celebrations. - 11/19/2007 12:47:56 PM
  • This excellent article is a good reminder for me. - 11/19/2007 8:55:41 AM

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