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Thanksgiving Survival Guide

By: Dana Yarn, RDLD

The hype of gathering and eating a meal like Thanksgiving dinner with close family and friends is one of the happiest times of year for all of us. A feast and celebration like Thanksgiving willThanksgiving Survival Guide give us much needed time off of work to spend with loved ones, but a holiday centered on food can tend to give us a few days off from our healthy diets too. Here's the low down on what you need to know to avoid gaining the typical seasonal seven pounds of holiday weight gain this season.

A little Dietitian math.

Counting Calories- although counting calories is not something I recommend we have all done it so the numbers may shock you if you have ever keep a food log of your macro nutrients. According to the Caloric Control Council the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone.  Surprisingly, most of these calories DO NOT come from the dinner itself, instead the calories come from the all-day snacking on appetizers, football game snacks, etc. One pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, the calories that are not used up as energy will be stored by fat cells and unfortunately, fat cells can never go away. Although they can shrink, you can never actually get rid of the cell itself.  Enjoy the holiday but avoid mindless eating simply because it is Thanksgiving.  Instead eat a portion controlled healthy breakfast and lunch rich in protein and vegetables and plan activities like board games, exercise, crafting etc. to keep your hands busy and out of the kitchen until the big meal itself. 

Enjoy the holidays without guilt.  Try Revamping some of your Traditional Recipes

  • Replacing just one cup of sugar with half the amount is a great way to train your taste buds to not desire too much sugar, or use all natural honey or stevia instead. 
  • Use alternative flours like almond, flax seed meal or even whole wheat flour instead of enriched white flour in your baked goods. You will prevent an extreme spike of insulin resulting in reduced carbohydrate cravings, and increased metabolism. 
  • Cook with unsweetened almond or coconut milk instead of whole or 2% milk. Your potatoes will be just as creamy, and you'll save calories.
  • Instead of using store-bought or your traditional homemade chip dip, opt for a Greek yogurt based dip.  Reducing fat content and increasing protein content for an overall healthier snack or appetizer.


You can easily add a little more movement to your holiday routine to help "make up" for some of the extra calories you eat. 

  • Register your family for a local Turkey Trot, several towns have a 5k/10k/half or full marathon on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Plan a family walk or workout session the morning or afternoon of Thanksgiving Day.
  • Organize an impromptu flag football or basketball game, this is a great way to bond with your loved ones have some laughs and of course burn some calories.

Be choosey about your leftovers. 

If you are hosting Thanksgiving try to give away fatting leftovers like starchy sides, desserts and cheesy appetizers.  Hold onto the turkey meat and roasted vegetables, turkey and vegetables makes for a healthy leftover meal that will not contribute to seasonal weight gain. 

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