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Healthy Thanksgiving without Giving up your Holiday Traditions

Thanksgiving meal makeover- small tips for a healthy Thanksgiving

by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN  |  2207 views  |  0 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. This is the time of year where many people abandon their weight loss and health goals and say, "I'll get started after the holidays". I would too if I was trying to follow a weight loss diet. A traditional Thanksgiving meal doesn't really fit into a rigid dieting plan. However, it is possible to make some small changes so you can find a way to enjoy the holidays, not abandon all your efforts, and maintain your weight loss and health goals. This just takes a little strategizing. I promise this isn't an article about taking away your gravy and mashed potatoes so let's continue.
A typical Thanksgiving dinner is over 2000 calories. This is more calories than most of us need in an entire day. Here are a few small changes you can make to help you save calories, enjoy your meal, and not ruin your weight loss and health efforts.

  • Go light. When it comes to turkey avoid the skin and choose white meat. If you enjoy the white meat just as much as the dark meat you can skim a few calories off.
  • Smaller portions. It's ok to have the stuffing, potatoes, and candies yams…just realize this is a very high carbohydrate meal. Choosing smaller portions of these foods will go a long way in saving you some calories. Just remember…you can always have left-overs tomorrow.
  • Watch alcohol. Alcohol is a biggie during the holidays. One mixed drink can cost you 200-300 calories, wine 120 calories and beer 120-150 calories. Just limiting your alcohol during the day by 1-2 drinks saves you over a hundred calories.
  • Pumpkin pie anyone? If you have a choice of pies go for the pumpkin. Pumpkin pie has around 165 calories per slice compared to 452 calories for Pecan pie, and 410 for apple pie. Just think…you can have a great dessert and save over 200 calories.
  • Make a tradition to get more activity this day. Many families will have an annual touch football game or perhaps an evening or morning walk. Getting in a little activity will go a long way.
Here is our Thanksgiving Makeover to show you how you can make small changes, not give up your traditions, and still maintain some balance in your food choices.

Before: Traditional Thanksgiving Meal

6 oz turkey (light and dark meat)

1 cup mashed potatoes

½ cup gravy

½ cup cranberry sauce

1 cup stuffing

½ cup candied yams

½ cup green beans

1 roll with 1 tsp butter

1 cup salad with 1 tbsp dressing

4 glasses of wine throughout day

Cup of coffee with cream and sugar

1 slice pecan pie

Grand total = 2700 calories

After: Thanksgiving Meal Makeover

4 oz white meat turkey

½ cup mashed potatoes

About the Author

Meri Raffetto is a Registered Dietitian, and a columnist for Work It, Mom! and the founder of Real Living Nutrition Services, an online weight loss program that empowers people to make small changes s

Read more by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN




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