Fit Feasting: 14 Tips for a Thinner Thanksgiving
● By Ray Burgess
While many of us look forward to Thanksgiving dinner, it’s also a notorious time for overeating. “Chances are, we’re going to eat more at this meal than perhaps any other of the year, which can be a problem if you’re watching your weight,” explains Laura Elliott-Sisterson, MS, RD, clinical nutrition educator at Kaiser Permanente Folsom Medical Offices. “What starts as one meal can be the beginning of months of overeating, if you allow it to happen. However, being cautious about food choices and portions can help you stay on track.” Here, local health and fitness experts share their tips to help you have a healthier holiday.
“Sign up and train for a turkey trot. It’s a great way to stay motivated and hold yourself accountable while giving back at the same time,” says Jennifer Collins, head trainer at Orangetheory Fitness Roseville/Rocklin.
“Plan a post-meal walk. As soon as you arrive at your Thanksgiving celebration, announce your plan to take a walk after the meal and find out who would like to join in. It’s a great way to help your food digest and burn some extra calories,” Collins says.
“[Excercise] in the morning, so you’re starting off the day strong. Stick to a routine as best as you can. If you should fall off the routine, don’t say the day is done. Just pick up where you left off,” says Dianna Noe, co-owner of West Coast Nutrition in Roseville.
“Plan a workout date the next morning with a friend. Accountability is key to staying on track. By committing to a friend, you have to show up and may think twice about that extra glass of wine at dinner or going back for seconds on dessert, since you know you have to get up early,” Collins says.
“Stick with your normal meals for breakfast and lunch so you don't overindulge at dinner,” Collins says.
“With so many starchy foods in one meal, consider skipping [the dinner rolls] and adding another vegetable,” says Elliott-Sisterson.
“Make healthy versions of your favorite dishes. Sugarless cranberry sauce has no refined sugar and tastes just like the real deal. Garlic mashed cauliflower is a great substitute to buttery mashed potatoes,” Collins shares.
“Use a regular nine-inch plate for your meal. Oversized plates are popular for seasonal table settings, but if you have the option, stick to the normal plate size [to] help with portion control,” says J. Bianca Roberts, MD, at Mercy Medical Group, a service of Dignity Health Medical Foujndation in Natomas.
“If you’re tempted to go back for seconds, opt for vegetable dishes,” Roberts says.
“When making pumpkin pie, use nonfat evaporated milk rather than whole or reduced fat. You can also use two egg whites in place of one whole egg,” Elliott-Sisterson says
“Enjoy sugary drinks and alcohol modestly, [and have] a tall glass of ice water with your meal,” Roberts says.
“Drink a glass of water 15-20 minutes before meal time, be mindful and eat slowly, enjoying each bite. It typically takes 20 minutes to feel full, so the longer we take to chew and enjoy, the less likely we are to overeat,” says Sky Baucom-Pro, MAS, RD, patient services manager in Food and Nutrition Services at UC Davis Health.
“Be aware of liquid calories. If you know you’re eating richer foods, such as stuffing, mashed potatoes with butter, sour cream or gravy, aim to save 500-plus calories by choosing to drink water or sparkling water. Alcohol can add hundreds of calories with just a few drinks,” says Barbara Lusk, MFCS, RD, LDN, FAND, clinical nutrition manager in IP Nutrition Services at UC Davis Health.
“Make sure you [prep] meals for the day and weekend after [the holiday], so you’re less likely to snack on unhealthy leftovers,” Collins says.