Tread Carefully Around the Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving is a time filled with family, friends, and lots of food. If you are trying to lose weight over this food-centric holiday, tread carefully so you don't have an unexpected surprise when you step on the scale.

November 16, 2015
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Thanksgiving is a time filled with potential pitfalls for the dieter. Even though the holiday celebrates a historical event, the focus of Thanksgiving ends up being all the food spread around the house. If you are trying to stick to your diet and lose weight, you need to tread carefully around the Thanksgiving table.

Holidays are a time of great celebration and Thanksgiving is no different. Many holidays have a food-centered focus, but none so great as Thanksgiving. Starting with the turkey and finishing with the pumpkin pies, the holiday is all about food.

When I counsel people about sticking to their diets at Thanksgiving, I often tell them to keep the focus of the holiday on the people and the reason for the holiday rather than the food.

That’s hard to do at Thanksgiving.

After all there are a lot of traditional foods served at Thanksgiving that are not diet friendly. But all is not lost.

You can enjoy Thanksgiving and still stick to your diet.

The first thing I want you to think about is whether you will be challenged by tempting Thanksgiving foods on just Thanksgiving day or over the entire Thanksgiving weekend. If it’s just the single meal, then enjoy yourself and don’t stress over the calories.

However, if your family is like mine, there may be Thanksgiving treats present the entire long weekend. That’s where it gets challenging. Especially when you consider that the average Thanksgiving meal has 4,500 calories, according to the Calorie Control Council. If you eat near that calorie level for days in a row, you can easily gain some weight. Not to mention that overeating for several days can make it mentally difficult to get your diet back on track.

When I approach a food-centric holiday like Thanksgiving, I make a mental list of the foods that I can only have during that holiday. For example, I never have pumpkin pie, cranberry nut pound cake, or dressing during the year. Then, I decide whether I want to spend my calories on those Thanksgiving foods. Fortunately for me, I am not a fan of pumpkin pie so I can pass it up. Dressing and cranberry nut pound cake; however, are worth spending a few extra calories on.

After deciding what foods are worth the calories, I take a look at the holiday schedule. I make sure I have time to exercise a little longer each day to burn some additional calories and keep myself focused on my weight loss goals.

When the holiday weekend begins, stay tuned in to what you’re consuming and avoid mindless eating. This is really important because mindlessly munching on can greatly impact how many calories you consume. For example, 10 crackers and a serving of cheese ball is 260 calories, there are about 300 calories in 1 cup of traditional sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie with 1/4 cup of whipping cream has about 300 calories.

Definitely offer to bring healthy options such as:

Mixed green salad

Steamed green beans that aren’t smothered in cream of mushroom soup

Fresh fruit

Low-fat cheese

Lower calorie desserts

Assorted nuts

I assure you that treading carefully around the Thanksgiving table will help you avoid weight gain, give you a sense of satisfaction, and reinforce the fact that you can enjoy the holiday without ruining your diet or gaining weight.

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