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

  • SYDVISH
    Pfft, I'm just not going to worry about it on Thanksgiving. I have a friend who is a body builder and when I asked her what she did on the holidays she said "Just remember its a holiday, not a holiweek". I will also avoid unhealthy fillers like chips and dip but I'm not going to be super guilty about one day on indulgence. - 11/25/2015 10:05:15 AM
  • NIAMIBUNNI
    Don't talk about weight loss, getting healthy, or any changes you are making to be healthy if you can.

    Enablers love to push food and extra servings if they know you are being successful with getting healthy. - 11/23/2015 3:07:58 PM
  • Trying Stevia in my pumpkin pie this year! I hope it turns out okay! - 11/23/2015 9:59:14 AM
  • A lot of really good information here. I would like to offer one thing, for anyone who suffers from a liver disease, do not use anything artificial. It put added strain on your liver and is not healthy for you. If you need to eat sweet, use the real stuff or honey, just keep in mind the weight issues. You can learn to eat things without adding anything to them, the foods natural tastes come out and are good. We just are a society of have to have's or its not good. Remember...your liver processes everything you take into your body, eat, through the skin, breath in, so be good to your liver and it will give you more time to be around and enjoy family and friends. - 11/22/2015 1:09:34 PM
  • A lot of really good information here. I would like to offer one thing, for anyone who suffers from a liver disease, do not use anything artificial. It put added strain on your liver and is not healthy for you. If you need to eat sweet, use the real stuff or honey, just keep in mind the weight issues. You can learn to eat things without adding anything to them, the foods natural tastes come out and are good. We just are a society of have to have's or its not good. Remember...your liver processes everything you take into your body, eat, through the skin, breath in, so be good to your liver and it will give you more time to be around and enjoy family and friends. - 11/22/2015 1:09:34 PM
  • BOOKNUT52
    Someone I met once shared a good method to avoid other people insisting you eat more, which puts so much pressure on you to overeat when otherwise you are doing OK with handling the holiday. She says, make a regular plate of food, and then keep it with you. Then people seem to think you are joining in to the full! Later you can put it in something to take home, so the food isn't wasted. Providentially, I have a husband who doesn't mind eating the things I'm avoiding! This works well at parties too, if you can stand walking around or sitting near all that food.
    - 11/22/2015 4:43:53 AM
  • DUBIGOOD
    I have worked too hard to let the holidays sabotage my good work..I will enjoy but I will focus on friends and fun and let food be the "crazy uncle Joe" enjoy but carefully.Keep tabs on "him"....Usually my hubby and I share dessert..Drink lots of water.And GIVE THANKS!!I give Thanks for SPARK PEOPLE!! Y'all have changed my life.....Oceans of Manilove to y'all!!!! - 11/22/2015 1:34:38 AM
  • Nima...- I love your ideas. I cook the food for my Mom at her house, then bring home the leftovers. This year I will pack a few take home plates for myself. Make a few for her since she is 95 and does not cook much. Then I am packing some take home cartons to send with my sons and their families. No leftovers to take home except my plates.

    Plus I will try to exercise while cooking with other suggestions.

    Have a great Thanksgiving. - 11/22/2014 1:06:05 PM
  • ETHELMERZ
    Why is there always this dumb "guilt" thing sent out there about any holiday? If you feel "guilty" about eating something extra on a holiday, stay home in your room by yourself. It's not gonna kill you to eat something extra on a holiday, the next day you go back to your usual plan, whatever it is. Unless you are yanking food out of someone else's mouth to eat, no need to feel this holiday "Guilt" junk!! - 11/14/2014 1:58:14 PM
  • I've been bringing my own food for about 4 years now, since I lost 50 lbs. I'm not crazy about the whole Thanksgiving feast, especially since the in-laws feast is very fat-laden, greasy foods, even the vegetables. I started adding a baked pork tenderloin and steamed veggies, but they aren't going to eat anything outside of their norm, and criticize the "uncooked" veggies, and the fact the pork has no gravy, etc.

    So now, I bring what I will eat, and if I have dessert, it is normally just one piece and maybe a piece for another day, but I don't bring anything else home, especially the entire cherry pie that she insists she buys just for me.

    Everyone should enjoy their Thanksgiving their way. Without a ton of waste. - 11/14/2014 10:33:49 AM
  • 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

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