Thanksgiving is the fattest time of the year. With the big holiday and a week off from school, you can easily gain a few pounds if you’re not careful.
The average Thanksgiving meal is around 3,000 calories with 229 grams of fat, according to The American Council on Exercise. The daily recommended intake is 2,000 calories and 65 grams of fat.
“The primary concern with extra calories during Thanksgiving is gaining weight, which has been associated with increased risk for several chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease,”
said Archana McEligot, a health science professor specializing in nutrition. “The extra calories can easily lead to a gain of three to five pounds during the holiday season.”
Some of us will have no control over the traditional high-calorie meal served; however, you can control how much food you put on your plate. Survey the food on the table and choose the food that only comes around once a year. A helpful rule is making sure your serving sizes don’t exceed the size of your fist.
Jared Venard, 18, a psychology major, hasn’t had a big appetite since he stopped playing high school football, so he’s not too worried about eating extra calories over Thanksgiving break.
“My metabolism hasn’t slowed down yet so I don’t worry too much about what I eat, but I want to get back into running and going to the gym to make sure that I still stay healthy,” said Venard.
For non-athletic students who don’t have high metabolisms, exercising over break will balance the high-calorie intake. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week broken up into 30 minutes per day.
Emily Tran, 20, a business administration major, leads a healthy lifestyle and doesn’t plan on overeating.
“I’ll stick to my regular workout routine of running an hour a day either in parks or at the gym,” said Tran.
Take your time and savor each bite instead of devouring everything in sight. According to Nina Kim of AllHealthCare, it takes 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to process that you’re full. If you can’t resist devouring the food, be mindful of serving sizes at least.
If you do have the opportunity to control the cooking, there are alternatives to decrease calories, sugar and fat.
When preparing the turkey, roast or smoke it. Try spraying the skin lightly with an oil-based spray instead of rubbing it in butter or oil, season it with salt and pepper, and keep it moist without all the fat by cooking it in a brown bag.
Good gravy is one of the most delicious complements to turkey, but it’s also a big calorie culprit. Instead of using turkey drippings, make a low-fat, broth-based gravy and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Switch out white bread rolls for whole grain dinner rolls and use fruits, nuts and vegetables in your stuffing in place of meat. Bake the stuffing in a casserole dish instead of in the turkey, where it’ll absorb a lot of fat.
Replace canned cranberry sauce with fresh puréed cranberries in orange juice and water. In creamy dips, potatoes and casseroles, use plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream. Try scalloped potatoes for an even healthier alternative and use olive oil, non-fat milk and low-fat cheese shreds to add flavor.
Healthy pies can be made with egg substitutes, non-fat milk, and you can even use less sugar than you’d normally use.