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November 21, 2011 at 8:00 AMComments: 4 Faves: 2

10 Tips for a Thin Thanksgiving

By Jessica Corwin MPH RDN More Blogs by This Author

Worried about what the upcoming holidays will do to your waistline? No worries. Here are a few tips to help you survive, I mean savor the Thanksgiving feast while still managing to squeeze into your skinny jeans.

  1. Be social. Spread your wings as a social butterfly this holiday and spend time finding out what cousin Ben has been up to this past year, rather than hovering over the appetizer tray. It becomes pretty tricky to spend the afternoon chewing when your mouth is busy sharing your latest drama. 
  2. Bring a healthy option to the table. Make sure there will be something healthy for you to enjoy while setting a positive example for those around you. Whether you choose to bring a fresh salsa for the veggie tray or a bowl of lemon-dill green beans, you will be able to count on at least one healthy option in addition to the turkey breast.
  3. Stave off hunger with some fresh munchies. Mostholiday affairs tend to have plenty of appetizers, ranging from a light relish tray to the not-so-light tray of spinach dip or cookies. You can enjoy an entire snack plate full of fresh veggies for fewer calories than you will find in a single double-chocolate treasure or serving of spinach dip.  If you are worried there may not be a veggie tray, see tip #3.
  4. Hydrate. Did you know that many of us often think we are hungry when we are actually thirsty? Drinking plenty of fresh water will help to keep you full and will certainly help to dilute the salty meal you are about to receive.
  5. Savor the seltzer. Instead of sipping on that 350-calorie glass of eggnog or the 250-calorie mixed drinks near the bar, save your calories for that slice of pie you have been looking forward to by opting for a lighter beverage. Cutting calorie-rich alcoholic beverages with calorie-free soda water will prevent yourself from drinking your calories. A festive wine-spritzer made with soda water and white wine is refreshing and will save you 60 calories per glass!
  6. Fill half of your plate with fresh salad or vegetables. This helps to fill your plate up which tells your brain that you are about to receive a very generous amount of food. Just be sure to consider the way the vegetables are prepared, fresh salad is a given, but Uncle Dave’s sweet potato casserole is not exactly a low-calorie delight.
  7. Go lean with protein. If your table is decorated with a roasted turkey, cut into a slice of lean turkey breast and slip off the skin. Protein has been found to help our body recognize that we are full and prevent hunger from striking again too soon.
  8. Opt for naked pumpkin pie. If pie is a must (and how could it not be at Thanksgiving?), rather than slicing a piece of apple pie or pecan pie, both of which deliver over 400 calories for 1/8 of a 9” pie, go for pumpkin instead (180 calories). If you are truly looking to cut calories, eat around the crust where most of the fat is found. But if pecan pie is your shining star of the Thanksgiving table, then go for it! Savor every last bite and focus on those heart-healthy fats :)
  9. Get moving! Sign your family up for the local Turkey Trot 5K Walk or start your own tradition by heading outside after dinner to play a rowdy game of football. Have fun while giving your metabolism a boost!
  10. Count your blessings. Even if you were not able to adhere to your healthy eating plan as tightly as you had hoped, please do not stress over it. It is a single meal and an incredible celebration at that! Get up and start fresh with your next meal. This meal is a treat and we should be grateful that we are blessed with all that accompanies our holiday – food and family included! 

Now it's your turn! What tricks do you implement to maintain your health goals during the holidays? 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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  • Love Tip #3. I normally try and eat a bit of appetizers so I am not as hungry for the main meal. That way, I don't end up with tons of food on my plate for dinner because my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

    Although I do have to work on picking the healthy appetizers. I definitely gravitate more to the cookies. :)

  • This will be my first colon-less Thanksgiving, so part of my plan to cut out calories while boosting water and sodium intake is hydrating a lot (tip #4), using soda water or just plain water to cut down on soda pop and other drinks (tip #5), and taking less mashed potatoes and opting for more gravy, to help get some of the extra liquids and sodium I need.

  • Thanks for sharing your own healthy holiday tips, Bri & Dave!

    Bri, when it comes to the cookies, it helps me to limit my cookie intake by taking a couple on a plate and sitting down to enjoy them (vs. grabbing one every time I walk past the trays and trays of cookies...). This way you are eating mindfully and fully savoring each bite. The first few bites always taste the best anyway :)

    Dave, it sounds like you have already put a good deal of thought into your new holiday meal plan. I am very impressed and hope that your day is wonderful! If you have any questions at all, I recently met another dietitian who is more specialized in the nutrition therapy for a colectomy and I am learning more every day.

    In good health!

  • Great tips Jessica - now if we can just control ourselves! I find it's true at these family gatherings you can eat the "special" foods that will be shared, you figure what the heck I don't get to eat them everyday so I might as well indulge this one time a year (no big deal right)? Oh, except it's never just once a year, we have so many holiday's to celebrate with family not to mention work gatherings.

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