The Skinny on Thanksgiving

  • Published
  • By Health and Wellness Center staff
  • 341st
Thanksgiving dinner! The time of year you stuff yourself into a food-induced coma and awaken to find your relatives have stacked sandbags around you so you don't tip over. It's the start of the holiday season; along with the beginning of holiday weight gain for millions of Americans. The problem with the typical Thanksgiving dinner is that it usually is not a healthy way to go about eating, even though you might say, "I only eat like this once a yea.r" 

Did you know the average Thanksgiving meal equals 2,000-3,000 calories and has more than 225 grams of fat? That's equivalent to two Big Mac's, two large orders of French fries and a large chocolate shake for one meal and does not include your breakfast, lunch, and the snacks you have throughout the day. To burn off those calories, you would have to walk 20-30 miles. It's a difficult challenge to watch your waistline during the holidays, but it is manageable if you follow some of these helpful tips. 

· Use non-fat milk versus whole or 2 percent milk (the mashed potato will still be creamy and you save 70 calories)

· Use egg substitute in baked goods (save 60 cal and 238mg cholesterol) 

· Offer a colorful variety of vegetables at the dinner table 

· Skip the turkey skin and choose light meat over dark (save 200 calories) 

· Limit sweet potatoes and stuffing to ½ cup (looks like ½ baseball, save 200 calories)
· Choose pumpkin pie over pecan (save 200 calories) 

· Prepare for the great feast earlier in the week by eating lighter, low fat foods 

· Watch your intake by eating a low-fat breakfast and lunch 

· Eat fresh fruit and vegetables while you're waiting for the bird to cook 

· Watch your portions at the table; smaller servings of your favorite foods can be satisfying and help save some unwanted calories 

· Fill half your plate with vegetables 

· Eat slower and savor the moment, give your body a chance to feel the satisfying feeling of fullness

· Drink a glass of water before and after the meal and push away from the table to signify that you are full

· Begin a new family tradition with physical activity such as a bike ride, jog, a brisk walk or participate in Great Falls 5th Annual "Burn the Bird" 5k-10k run on Thanksgiving morning. Burn off some calories before you even eat dinner. (Call 406-231-4557 for more information or register online at Physical activity will jump start your metabolism and help reduce stress during the holiday madness. Hopefully you'll sweat out the gravy.

· If you're curious about the amount of calories you consume, try tracking a food journal a few days before Thanksgiving. Great Webs ite sources to track your food journal are, or

If all else fails, here are two last minute strategies to keep your waistline down: avoid taking that after dinner nap and remember physical activity can go a long way.
There are two options to cut back on calories during the holiday: plan for the day or burn the turkey. Option two isn't so bad, you'd avoid a salmonella outbreak, no one would over eat and carving the bird would be equivalent to a great cardiovascular workout. Best of all, there would be no turkey sandwiches for weeks to come. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for nature's harvest, so eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Thanksgiving with family and friends is always a great time. You just need to create your own healthy options.