Thanksgiving can be hard to navigate successfully and we totally get it! There are so many decisions and so many temptations! In this Choose Your Own Adventure: Thanksgiving Edition, we will help you steer clear of those unwanted Holiday pounds with simple strategies, solid facts and a little bit of humor. Grab a piece of paper and pen, answer the questions along the way and find out how savvy you all ready are and where you can implement a new tactic. Get ready for the adventure to begin!
Twas the morning of Thanksgiving and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. You wake up determined not to be, the statistic of average weight gain, ooo-wee! You are comfortable on your pillow trying to jog your memory, what did Kelsey & Amy say about the average Holiday weight gain?
20 + lbs?
Man, you definitely don’t want to gain that much over the next couple of months. Today is going to be rough. Aunt Debbie always has all the delicious food. And you know the average calorie intake for Thanksgiving dinner alone is…
(Insert your guesstimate here)
You might not know the exact number yet (because we know you aren’t cheating and scrolling to the answer key at the bottom) but what we will say is that number may shock you! It is A LOT of calories. So the real question is, what is the best strategy for you to get through the day?
- Don’t eat and save your calories for Aunt Debbie's
- Do an extra hard workout and skip the carbs beforehand
- Eat balanced meals, get some exercise in & drink water
You are feeling good about your plan. You roll out of bed and move to the closet. What should you wear today?
- Obviously, no question. Your Thanksgiving pants haven’t seen the light of day for the last 364 days, but time to break them out.
- That form-fitting pair of jeans and sweater would really show off all the hard work you have been putting in lately. You opt for feeling and looking fabulous.
Now that your wardrobe is taken care of, time to contribute to the party. Everyone knows it is rude to show up empty handed. Do you really want to disappoint Aunt Debbie? All the traditional dishes are taken care of, but you get to bring appetizers. You head down to the kitchen to make your addition. What is the healthiest option you choose to make this year?
- Hummus & veggie tray & Shrimp cocktail
- Spinach dip in a bread bowl
- Bean dip, guacamole, chips & Little smokies drenched in BBQ sauce
Later in the afternoon you head to the party. All the family brought appetizers and suddenly your healthy option doesn’t look quite as appealing. But knowing that you are not about consuming a massive amount of calories today; what is your strategy at the appetizer table?
- Have just ONE of everything. There may be 25 appetizers, but one if each is OK right? It is called portion control.
- Choose ONE appetizer that you really want. Put it on a plate and go over to chat with grandma on the couch while you enjoy.
- Strategy? It is Thanksgiving. I am going to eat what I want. I plan to blow this calorie intake out of the water and reach for 10,000
You happily chat with your family as they catch you up on all the happenings in their life. You sip on your water while listening to your uncle Spencer dish all the juicy gossip about his crazy neighbors when you see Aunt Debbie open up the bar! “The Party has started!” She yells as she pops open the champagne. You make your way over feeling good about your appetizer choices and self-control so far. She sweetly asks you what you would like. You…
- Down a shot of whiskey and grab one beer for both hands. You’re thankful for beer.
- Ask for a glass or wine or a vodka soda. You might need it if you have to listen to anything more from your Uncle.
- You decide that pumpkin pie sounds amazing so you opt to skip the alcohol.
It’s finally time to sit at the table and enjoy the turkey with all the fixings. What does your plate look like?
- Turkey breast, a spoonful of mashed potatoes and drizzle of gravy, sautéed green beans and a bit of stuffing, your favorite!
- A turkey leg, two dinner rolls with all the butter, mashed potatoes on top with the plate swimming in gravy! Don’t forget that green bean casserole.
- Giant green salad with boneless skinless turkey breast. No dressing!
You are feeling pretty full after that massive dinner. You ended up going for a little extra turkey because it was delicious. But you are counting down the minutes until you can dig into some freaking pie. You sit around the table and decide you can’t listen to the screaming ruffians and family gossip anymore. You join Aunt Debbie and Uncle Spencer in the kitchen to help clean up the plates. Besides, you burn a few extra calories by helping and you get a sneak peek of the dessert table. Finally, it’s ready! Everyone makes his or her way back into the kitchen for the “buffet”. What do you do?
- It’s like the appetizer table, one of everything! DUH!
- Pecan pie with whipped cream
- Pumpkin pie with ice cream
After dessert, you sit happily on the couch feeling pretty good about your Thanksgiving food choices. You rest your head against your favorite cousin and let the tryptophan do it’s job. Night night!
Now to unveil the answers and strategies to implement this Holiday season…
The average Holiday weight gain is 10-20lbs. YES, 10-20lbs! Isn’t that crazy?!
That statistic may only be topped by the average calories for Thanksgiving dinner, which is 4,500 calories! This is just the dinner alone, not for an entire Thanksgiving Day! To keep this in perspective, one pound of body fat whether losing or gaining is equivalent to 3,500 calories. So in ONE meal you are consuming the number of calories that equates to 1+ lb. of body fat!
After learning the average calories, you may be tempted to save all your calories for the big meal. We suggest eating your typical balanced meals and snacks, getting in some exercise & drinking water before going to celebrate with the family. Then when confronted with all the calorie-laden delicious foods made by Aunt Debbie you won’t feel famished and ready to eat everything in site. You will be able to enjoy without going overboard.
Keep your Thanksgiving pants in the drawer this year! Break out a form-fitting dress or your favorite skinny jeans! “You’ll be less likely to overeat if you’re wearing something a little snug, because you’ll start feeling uncomfortable more quickly,” says Keri Gans, R.D. If you can make it through the meal without having to undo the top button of your pants, you’re in good shape.
Bring a healthy well-balanced appetizer such as hummus, veggies and shrimp cocktail. You will have a healthy option amongst the ooey gooey baked Brie and spinach dip leaving room for a real favorite treat later on.
When you get to the party choose ONE appetizer that you really want. Put it on a plate and go over to chat with grandma on the couch while you enjoy. At most parties, we tend to gather around the appetizer table to chat and mindlessly eat. In that time, an average person consumes an additional 1,500 calories or more in drinks and food BEFORE the main meal. Pick your favorite and walk away! Keep your hands busy with a glass of sparkling water or your favorite cocktail if you are choosing to indulge.
Speaking of alcohol… here are a few best practices. If you are choosing to indulge, your best options are wine, vodka or tequila; although not in the form of a sugary margarita or cocktail. Chose a light mixer like flavored sparkling water and lime, a diet soda or soda water with a splash of your favorite juice. If you haven’t heard us talk about this, check out our recent Facebook Live HERE . We break down all the reasons why! If you are skipping out on the drinks to save for your favorite dessert or dinnertime dish, then we will get to that soon.
It is not reality to completely deprive yourself. You should be able to enjoy the Holidays with balance. Opt for a plate full of turkey breast, a spoonful of mashed potatoes and drizzle of gravy, sautéed green beans and a bit of stuffing. You will get a little bit of all that you enjoy without going overboard. Remember there are typically left overs, you can always have some tomorrow.
Finally the big debate, which dessert to choose because who is actually going to pass up dessert on Thanksgiving? Drum roll… the traditional pumpkin pie and ice cream would be your best choice! Pecan pie cashes in at a whopping 500 calories PER SLICE! You will save a few calories by choosing pumpkin instead.
Thanksgiving is just the beginning; there are still parties and events to come until after the New Year. These strategies can all be used throughout the whole season! If you need more suggestions or one on one attention, you know where to find us! Until next time… hide your Thanksgiving pants!