Controlling Thanksgiving Dinner Calories

Obesity will soon surpass cigarette smoke as a leading cause of death in the United States, where 30 percent of adults are currently obese. The only answers to this are to eat less junk food, eat more healthy food, and get regular exercise. But as Thanksgiving approaches, it can be very easy to overeat. You shouldn’t deny yourself any holiday treats. That can just set you up for a binge later when you give in to the temptation. The key is to control your portions. A typical Thanksgiving dinner comprised of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and other traditional foods, and then finished off with a slice of pumpkin pie can add up to more than 1,600 calories. That’s an entire day’s allowance for many people, and it would take more than three hours on a treadmill to burn it all off!

This diagram shows the recommended serving sizes of the most common Thanksgiving foods, average Thanksgiving dinner calories, and the amount of time it would take to counteract them on a treadmill or elliptical trainer. The fact is, most people will eat much more than these standard servings. How much of these Thanksgiving foods do you usually eat?

Click to view the Thanksgiving Dinner Calories Infographic

Click to view the Thanksgiving Dinner Calories infographic.

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You can still enjoy a holiday meal without feeling deprived. With just a little common sense, some willpower, and a healthy dose of exercise, you won’t have to make losing weight your New Year’s resolution.

How to control Thanksgiving dinner calories:

  • Use a smaller plate. The less space there is to fill, the less food you will be tempted to pile on.
  • Hold off on seconds. Give your body time to realize it’s full before you go for round two.
  • Have breakfast on Thanksgiving Day. Don’t skip it to “save room” for the big turkey dinner. Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, and if you don’t starve yourself all day, you won’t be as likely to overeat.
  • Make smart choices. Trim any skin and fat off the turkey. Use just a little butter on your dinner rolls rather than slathering it on. Have one spoonful of green bean casserole, and a larger serving of steamed green beans.
  • Use healthy substitutions. If you’re the one making Thanksgiving dinner, try using low-fat and sugar-free ingredients wherever possible. One half cup of gravy has 150 calories. The same amount of a low-fat alternative can have as few as 34.
  • Be active. Don’t just stay inside, eating and watching TV. Get outside, play some touch football, workout BEFORE dinner or just go for a walk and enjoy the cool fall weather.

Remember, the December holidays aren’t too far behind, either. If you’ve been thinking you might buy a treadmill, Thanksgiving with the family is a great time to start dropping hints about how much you’d appreciate the gift of exercise this year.

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Sources for the Thanksgiving Dinner calorie count infographic:

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