Thanksgiving is just around the corner: a time to enjoy a long weekend with friends, family, and or course, food. While you may be looking forward to this year’s turkey feast, a festive dinner can cause concern for anyone watching their waistline and for good reason. The calories in a typical holiday feast can quickly add up – totaling up to 2000 or even 3000 calories in a single sitting. Unless you are planning on offset the calories by completing the Victoria marathon on Sunday, stick to proper portion sizes and make smarter choices to prevent the post-holiday bulge.
Here are some tips to enjoy your Thanksgiving feast without feeling like a stuffed turkey.
Exercise. A half hour brisk walk, jog, or circuit workout will burn off some of the extra calories and keep you thinking of your health. Many people are more likely to want to eat healthy foods after working out.
Have breakfast. Don’t starve yourself to save up for dinner. Instead, eat a protein rich breakfast, such as Greek yogurt and berries, a protein shake, or an egg on toast. A small, healthy lunch will also keep you satisfied until dinner – making you less likely to overindulge.
Enjoy your turkey. Turkey, or ham, is an excellent source of protein and the cornerstone of most Thanksgiving feasts. Stick to 3-6 ounces of meat (depending on your activity level and goals). White meat is extremely lean, making it heart healthy. Skip the skin to save yourself five grams of saturated fat.
Eat your greens. Veggies are full of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They are also very low in calories – when prepared with health in mind. Opt for steamed or boiled vegetables such as beans, brussels sprouts, carrots or corn, or a side salad. Save 200 calories by skipping the butter.
Enjoy the starches (mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, dinner rolls) in moderation. . Half a cup of stuffing has about 200 calories, while a cup of mashed potatoes has between 175 and 250 calories, depending on how much butter was added. A cup of boiled yams has 158 calories. Three quarters of a cup of candied yams has 335 calories, the same number of calories burned during a 5 kilometre run. If you are hosting dinner, use butter sparingly while making the side dishes. If you are a guest, limit yourself to two half cup portions of starches to finish your supper feeling comfortably full, not wishing you had an elastic waistband.
Use the extras sparingly. Unless you want to add a few hundred extra calories to your dinner, be careful with sauces. If your gravy is made with cream and turkey fat, you may be packing away up to 60 calories per tablespoon – and remember that a tablespoon isn’t very much! Enjoy a bit of gravy with your turkey, not the other way around. A low-fat version of the real thing can be made with chicken stock, using corn starch or tapioca as a thickening agent. Use cranberry sauce sparingly as well – just because it is low in fat doesn’t mean it’s low in calories!
Eat until you are satisfied – not stuffed. Not only will your pants still fit, but you will avoid being uncomfortably full. You can always enjoy your leftovers for lunch the next day, or make weekday meals from the extra turkey.
Taste – don’t inhale- your dessert. When you are stuffed with turkey, an array of tempting desserts inevitably appear on the table. You don’t have to be an expert in nutrition to know that cheesecake and pumpkin pie is not low-calorie fare. If you fancy dessert, enjoy a sample of your favourite dessert, but don’t feel obligated to polish your plate. If you would rather not indulge, but do not want to offend your host, request to take a piece to go.
Happy Thanksgiving Chilliwack!
Tanja Shaw is a Kinesiologist and personal trainer, specializing in weight loss, group fitness, pre and postnatal fitness, and health and wellness programs. She owns Ascend Fitness Coaching, which offers Boot Camps, mom and baby fitness classes and personal training in the Chilliwack area. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.