Tips for a Guiltless Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us, and with it comes some of the anxiety that is associated with holiday eating and weight gain.  There are some very simple changes you can make to be healthier and prevent weight gain.  A typical Thanksgiving meal contains about 3,500 calories.  Coincidentally, there are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat!

Here are some tips to keep in mind next week during your Thanksgiving holiday…

Limit your “feast” to one meal. Often times, Thanksgiving is celebrated over the course of a few days when we are with family and friends.  Give yourself permission to enjoy and indulge a bit during the holiday meal, but DO NOT use this as an excuse to splurge for the days preceding and succeeding the holiday.

Appetizers: Even before the holiday meal begins, we can consume hundreds or even thousands of calories with the spreads of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres.  These often include high fat foods like chips, crackers, dips, cheeses, processed meats, and high-​​calorie beverages like egg nog, hot chocolate, or alcoholic mixed drinks.  Instead of these options, serve/​choose lighter options such as shrimp cocktail, vegetables with salsa, hummus, or guacamole, reduced-​​fat cheeses, fruit cocktail, and beverages like tea, coffee, seltzer, sugar-​​free hot chocolate, wine, and light beer.

Main course: Remember the plate method!  Fill half of your plate with vegetables (plan to have at least two vegetables served at the holiday meal) – for example, you may add a large salad, string beans, brussel sprouts, broccoli, or cooked carrots to the menu.  Then, fill a quarter of your plate with protein – remember, turkey breast is lean, while dark meat with skin is high fat and high calorie.  The remaining quarter of your plate can be used for your starch.  Allow yourself a small portion of denser foods like stuffing, but favor healthier options like sweet potatoes and wild rice.  If your family is open to it, serve baked sweet potatoes versus mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows.  Otherwise, prepare your mashed potatoes with skim milk and a healthy margarine, OR try something different and much lower calorie/​carb like cauliflower mash.

Desserts: The key here is portion control.  Choose one dessert and have a serving, or have a few bites of a few different desserts.  If you really want to watch it, have some fruit, a scoop of light ice cream or frozen yogurt, or skip it altogether and have a cup of tea/​coffe instead.  You can also find some great recipes for lower-​​sugar/​carb pies.

Burn it off!!! Don’t forget – this is the most important time of the year to exercise.  More calories in = weight gain.. unless you burn the excess off.  This is no time to slack, so don’t forget to pack some comfortable clothes and walking shoes wherever you go this holiday season!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Shana Maleeff

Shana Maleeff, M.A., R.D., ACE-GFI, received a B.S. in Nutrition from Penn State University and an M.A. in Nutrition Education from Immaculata University in Pennsylvania. She works in the New York and New Jersey Metropolitan areas counseling clients on nutrition, exercise, medication adherence, and stress management to help them with weight management and treatment/prevention of heart disease and diabetes. Shana is the creator of the groundbreaking weight loss program "The 21 Diet and Exercise Weight Loss Solution". Previously, she worked as a hospital dietitian and as an adjunct professor of nutrition at Philadelphia Community College.

Shana takes a special interest in fitness and works as a group fitness instructor at Crunch Fitness and Equinox gyms in Manhattan. She currently resides in New York City and enjoys living a healthy lifestyle.

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