A Thanksgiving Health Survival Guide

Copyright from spoonforkbacon.com

Hello readers…I would like to take the time to bring you some surprising facts about Thanksgiving and how you can stay away from making some of the most common eating mistakes! The holidays are a great time of celebration, of sharing special moments with your friends and family…they can make us forget about our current life stressors or hardships, but they can also distract us from healthy living. . . The average person can gain up to 1-3  lbs from Thanksgiving to New Years. I mean after all, don’t we gather around to eat and drink? It depends greatly on the culture. My culture is centered around drinking, partying and food. Our Holidays last from Thanksgiving until the end of January. . .Which translates into gaining up to 10 lbs during the Holidays alone. . . If you are petite like me, 10 lbs is a lot!! So… I’ve gathered some facts and tips on staying smart during the holidays and controlling what you eat.

DID YOU KNOW ? that….

The average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone, according to the Caloric Control Council. Surprisingly, most of these calories come from the all-day snacking in front of the TV while watching parades and sporting events. So what can you do to prevent falling into this eating trap?

1- Remember you are the master of your own body, only you can control what you eat….After all, you are what you eat.

2-BEFORE THANKSGIVING: Have a small and light breakfast. Exercise the night before.


3- Stay away from the gravy! Turkey is naturally a lean white meat when not cooked in butter and bathed in gravy. So go ahead, have a portion of turkey, just avoid the gravy or any meat wrapped in bacon.

4- Fill 1/3 of your plate with fresh green salad (not potato salad!! This is usually made with tons of mayo and added fat) or vegetables. Eat this first. I know it’s hard because there are going to be other things that look more appealing, but if you eat something packed in nutrition and fiber first, studies have shown you are less likely to overeat, and more importantly overeat on the fatty food options like the potato salad.

4- Try to skip the dinner roll or bread. Why? Because you will probably want some butter with it too…Am I right? Additionally these rolls are usually made with white flour and even some sugar. I mean in the end, it all depends. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving are pumpkin centered desserts. I would much rather save my calories for a small piece of pecan pie or a decadently rich pumpkin cheesecake instead of small piece of bread.

5- Offer to cook something. When you cook a recipe, you are in control of the ingredients you put into your food. I know this sounds obvious. But….I come from a big family (my Thanksgiving celebrations includes 60 people!)…and most of them are not health conscious. Their idea of a salad is one bathed in mayo and bacon. So…take control, made a healthy side dish such as a sweet potato puree, a pear & pecan salad, brown rice with caramelized onions and garlic, etc.

Here are some other tips from Spark People on 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 vegan mayonnaise for half of the recipe, and replace the other half with reduced fat sour cream, light cream cheese or even non fat greek yogurt. One cup of lower-fat sour cream will provide all the flavor and texture of mayonnaise for 1,300 calories and 150 grams of LESS fat. THIS IS AMAZING!

6- If you are planning of having at least one heavier than usual meal, try to behave for the rest of the day. This includes avoid snacking on potato chips, creamy dips or meat. Have a fruit or gravitate towards the vegetable tray. Save those calories for the good stuff! Also…if you have a difficult time controlling yourself….Don’t sit next to the appetizers, or don’t watch the parade or game next to the bowl of chips….You will be tempted and probably end up eating extra calories although you are not hungry. We are visual creatures, and food has the power to draw you in…so avoid it!

7- Portion control / Plate everything you are going to eat. Studies have shown that people who eat while doing other activities (like watching tv, studying, working) have higher BMIs because they tend to overeat. Why? Because instead of the brain focusing on the activity of eating, it’s focused on some other activity. Furthermore, if you make this into a habit, the next time you perform that same activity your brain will send you a signal or make you crave food or trick you into thinking you are hungry. This why every time you go to the movies, even if you just came from dinner, you brain finds it hard to resist that incredibly smelling popcorn. It’s already become a habit.

8- Get moving. Offer to help out. Doing household chores can burn calories! Yes…lots of calories. So instead of being a couch potato, which is easy since turkey contains tryptophan an amino acid that makes you sleepy….. Stand up, walk around, throw away some trash, do the dishes, talk with your friends and family while standing, etc.

9- Don’t take too many leftovers! I know this is hard because people usually eat turkey for a couple of days after Thanksgiving… But there is nothing wrong with this. Eat turkey with salad on the next day or in a healthy wrap or mix it with some light whole grain pasta…But don’t eat it with the same heavy side dishes you had on Thanksgiving day. Get creative,  get cooking and stay inspired. Also don’t take home desserts…They are one of the fatty culprits of Thanksgiving; after all, most are made of butter and sugar…

10- Limit the alcoholic beverages. Stick to champagne or wine. Other Holiday drinks can be packed with sugary liquors, milks, juices and syrups which can pack lots of surprising calories.

This is it for now. Have fun, be thankful and enjoy yourself. …but treat your body like a temple, because your going to be stuck with it for the rest of your life. Be active, be healthy. You will reap so many benefits from it… It may be hard at first, but then your body will be asking for it, and thrive on it. Prevention should be today’s primary health concern. It’s not only good for your body, but also for the economy, for society, for your work life and for you personal life…

Hope this post helped!! Got any other Holiday advice? Please share!!!

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