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How to Survive Thanksgiving Guide

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and loved ones, and, of course…EAT!

Although we may have the best of intentions, the spread of turkey, chicken, casseroles, pies, and more may make it difficult to keep up with your healthy goals for the year.

Well, here are some tips to help you survive the weekend, and not regret it so much later:

    • Eat Before the Party Starts:
      • Going to dinner starving may be one of the worst decisions. Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and a low calorie snack before heading to dinner. Great breakfast choices may include whole grain cereal with low fat milk, and fruit, or an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast. A breakfast packed with protein and fiber will help to prevent overeating.
    • Avoid Finger Foods:
      • Hor d’oeurves can be high in calories and fat. If it doesn’t require a knife and fork, it probably isn’t worth it.
    • Survey the Buffet:
      • We all make this mistake…by the time we get to the end of the line, there’s no room left on our plate. This forces us to grab seconds later. If you survey the line, you can limit your plate space to your healthy and favorite choices.
    • Eat the “Special Stuff”:
      • Don’t blow your precious calories on large portions of food you can eat everyday. Fill your plate with small portions of holiday favorites that are only around one time a year. This way, you can really enjoy those desirable, traditional foods. Of course we all have our own favorites, but keep in mind that there are better food choices than others: White turkey meat, plain vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, defatted gravy, and pumpkin pie tend to be the best bets because they are lower in fat and calories.
    • Drink Plenty of Water:
      • Water is your best friend. Not just today, but any day. Studies show that water helps control your appetite by making you feel full without the  extra calories.
    • Eat Slowly:
      • It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you’re full. So, while you’re savoring your food, you can give your stomach some time to catch up. This can often be accomplished by putting your fork down between bites, and taking time to enjoy the taste. My grandfather used to tell me, “chew for every tooth you have”. I understand that this may look strange to count your chews in public, but I think you get the point…
    • Stop When You’re Full:
      • It may sound obvious, but it’s one of the hardest things to do when you’re surrounded by everyone else getting up for seconds. Keep in mind that whatever you don’t eat today can be enjoyed for leftovers tomorrow! If you feel tempted to overeat, it may help to push the plate away from you when you’re done.
    • No Seconds:
      • If you feel full with the above tips, you shouldn’t feel pressured to go for seconds. Your host will accept a polite, “no, thank you”. In fact, they may thank you for the leftovers!
    • Alcohol Only in Moderation:
      • Aside from empty calories, alcohol will also lower your inhibition, making it easier to a second, or even third helping! Staying sober and staying hydrated will allow you to keep your healthy goal in mind.
    • Keep It Moving:
        • Activity is key. If you exercise regularly, don’t break your regimen on Thanksgiving. If you don’t work out, try to get in a little something. Plan to take a walk, play a game of flag football, or play with the kids before and/or after your meal. This will help you to burn off the extra calories even before you indulge in your favorite foods and a great way to have your loved ones enjoy the holiday together.
      • You’ll get bonus points for being the host!  Cooking and spending lots of time in the kitchen not only earns you props at the dinner table, but it’ll also burn about 140 calories an hour! (Average based on a 160-lb. person.)
    • Enjoy Dessert…In Moderation:
      • As long as your doctor has not told you otherwise, it is okay to enjoy a bite (one serving) of your favorite dessert. If you find yourself going for seconds, however, be sure to give it a second-thought.
    • Pitch In:
        • Not only will preparing a meal burn a few extra calories, but it will also allow you add another healthy option to the spread. If you know what’s in it, you’ll know how much of it you can enjoy.
      • If you do cook, you can contribute by considering these healthier options:
          • Use fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy.
          • Use sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods.
          • Reduce oil and butter wherever you can.
          • Try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.
        • Use fresh herbs and spices, rather than adding more salt to your food.
  • Be Realistic:
    • The holiday season is a time for celebration and to enjoy time with family and friends. Considering all of the extra temptations, it may be a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.   If you avoid gaining weight over the holidays, you’ll still be way ahead of the game.

And most of all, enjoy the time with family and friends!

The food is eventually lost, but memories last forever…

About Us

Dr Felecia Sumner is a board-certified family medicine physician, wellness strategist, national speaker and best-selling author. She is dedicated to empowering you and your communities to become WELL – Whole, Energized, and Loving Life.


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