Avoid the 3,000-Calorie Dilemma at Thanksgiving

Recognizing Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 2010

Ameritas Insight Thanksgiving Dinnermeritas Insight Thanksgiving Dinner

Did you know that the average Thanksgiving meal contains about 3,000 calories? That’s about 1,000 more calories than most people should eat for the entire day!

According to exercise specialists, to burn off those calories the average person would need to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours or walk for 30 miles.

Enjoy the Turkey and Stay Fit

You can enjoy the Thanksgiving meal without adding to your waistline by following these guidelines:

  • Don’t go hungry. Avoid starving yourself so you can indulge on the Thanksgiving meal. Instead, eat a light, wholesome breakfast and a healthy snack before enjoying the Thanksgiving lunch or dinner.
  • Practice portion control. As you gaze over the Thanksgiving meal selections, pace yourself so you don’t eat everything in sight. Start the meal by filling your plate with vegetables, a small serving of lean meat and a starch. Chew your food slowly and stop when you’re full.
  • Avoid the skin. To avoid extra fat, choose a lean, 4-ounce portion of turkey meat without the skin.
  • Take small amounts of side dishes. Don’t overindulge on salads, potatoes, dressing and other side dishes. Take small portions so you can sample all of the foods you enjoy in moderation.
  • Limit foods with cream sauces and cheese. High-fat foods are often hidden in tasty fried, creamy and cheese-filled dishes. Again, watch the portion size to avoid consuming too many calories.
  • Drink water. While coffee and alcohol may complement the meal, they also dehydrate your body. Water helps to fill up your stomach so you don’t overindulge, and it keeps you hydrated.

Choose Lower-Fat Ingredients

If you are cooking the Thanksgiving meal, replace high-fat ingredients with lower-fat options, such as light butter or margarine, low-fat cheese, egg whites, low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt or fat-free cream soups. To lower calorie intake after the meal, use leftover turkey in a pot of soup, instead of making sandwiches with bread, cheese and condiments.

Feast on Turkey Leftovers

After enjoying the meal, take time to store the food items for future use:

  • Within two hours after the meal, store leftover foods and the pumpkin pie in the refrigerator
  • Use small or shallow storage containers for leftovers so the foods can cool quickly in the refrigerator. Label and date the items.
  • Eat leftovers stored in the refrigerator within three days
  • Items stored in the freezer should be enjoyed within a few months

Don’t Forget About Your Oral Health

After enjoying the Thanksgiving meal, take a few minutes to care for your oral health. Brush and floss your teeth and use an antiseptic mouthwash to remove food particles in your mouth.

Tell me about your Thanksgiving meal traditions. Which foods do you enjoy the most? If you’re cooking the meal, do you use lower-fat ingredients to make a healthier meal for your guests? – Karen Gustin, Ameritas Group