Category

Dietary Goals

Category

Are you already anticipating a turkey-day dietary torpedo that’s going to decimate your carefully plotted eating plans? Listen, it’s only natural to splurge a little on Thanksgiving. However, you may be wondering if overindulging on ONE DAY is enough to derail your goals. Let’s take a look at what going a bit “overboard” on Thanksgiving means for your healthy intentions.

How Many Calories Does the Average Person Consume on Thanksgiving?

It’s time for a moment of truth! Be prepared to be a little bit shocked when you discover just how much we’re all eating on Thanksgiving. According to data from the Calorie Control Council, the average person consumes 3,000 calories in a single Thanksgiving meal. We’ll do a breakdown of exactly where those calories are coming from in a minute. First, let’s run a comparison on what those 3,000 calories are equal to in real-world terms using some research provided by USA Today. Here’s what you could eat to equal one typical Thanksgiving meal:

  • Six Big Macs from McDonalds’s.
  • 10 Caesar salads from Panera.
  • 12 servings of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream.
  • 14 strawberry-iced donuts from Krispy Kreme.

The truth is that 3,000 calories for a single meal is no small thing. The current dietary guidelines for adults show that many of us are going over our total calorie counts for an entire day with one meal on Thanksgiving. Based on recommendations, adult men should be consuming between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day. The range is 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for adult women.

Where Do Thanksgiving Calories Come From?

Where are those 3,000 calories coming from when we sit down for Thanksgiving? The good news about Thanksgiving dinner is that it provides many opportunities for lean proteins and vegetables. This is where portion control can work to your advantage because “tasting a little bit of everything” can help you stay within a more reasonable calorie range without feeling deprived. According to the Calorie Control Council, here’s what the breakdown for a typical Thanksgiving meal might look like for the average American:

Appetizers/Dips/Snacks

  • Cheese ball with nuts (2 tablespoons): 246 calories/20 grams of fat.
  • Crackers (serving of 10): 177 calories/7 grams of fat.
  • Potato chips (serving of 10): 150 calories/10 grams of fat.
  • Dip (2 tablespoons): 60 calories/5 grams of fat.

Main Dish

  • Skinless roasted turkey (4 ounces): 190 calories/6 grams of fat.

Side Dishes

  • Cornbread (1 square): 15 calories/5 grams of fat.
  • Bread stuffing (1 cup): 355 calories/17 grams of fat.
  • Gravy (1/2 cup): 178 calories/13 grams of fat.
  • Sweet-potato casserole (1 cup): 276 calories/6 grams of fat.
  • Green-bean casserole (1 cup): 143 calories/8 grams of fat.
  • Cranberry sauce (1/2 cup): 209 calories/0 grams of fat.
  • Carrot-raisin salad with dressing (1 cup): 319 calories/30 grams of fat.

Beverages

  • Sweet tea (1 cup): 37 calories/0 grams of fat.

Dessert

  • Pecan pie (1/8 of a 9-inch pie): 456 calories/21 grams of fat.

Extras

  • Butter (1 tablespoon): 102 calories/11 grams of fat.

Now, your meal may look a little bit different depending on your family traditions and personal holiday favorites. However, this breakdown gives you a good look at where you can easily add some checks and balances to your Thanksgiving meal. For instance, the surprising “danger zone” appears to be a seemingly healthy dish like carrot-raisin salad. However, there’s no doubt that the dressing can put a dish like that over the edge for calories and fat. You can also see just how many calories you can wipe from the scoreboard if you skip the cheese-and-cracker plate in favor of waiting to begin chowing down until you get to your main course.

This particular breakdown from the Calorie Control Council uses pecan pie as the default dessert. You may be wondering how the count looks if you’re more of a pumpkin pie person. According to the USDA, the average slice of pumpkin pie contains 225 calories and 9.3 grams of fat. That means you’re basically slicing calories and fat in half if you go with pumpkin over pecan.

You may have noticed that alcoholic drinks are absent from this list. Be warned that a few drinks can significantly increase your calorie total on Thanksgiving. If breaking out the spirits is simply part of your holiday tradition, there’s no reason to deprive yourself just because you’re counting calories. However, you may want to try to balance “liquid calories” with solid calories to take into account the calories and carbs you’ll be consuming in the form of wine, beer, or liquor. The average serving of beer has between 142 calories and 338 calories. For wine, the calorie count is 120 calories to 130 calories per 5-ounce glass.

Will Splurging on Thanksgiving Really Derail Your Goals?

So far, we’ve covered what the calorie count looks like for the average Thanksgiving meal. Some people are focused on finding ways to eat less on Thanksgiving to avoid a “splurge.” Others simply want to know if going wild on one day can sabotage their goals and progress. Let’s dive in to dissect that second question.

Our first instinct may be to wonder how many calories we’d need to eat on Thanksgiving to gain weight. However, a person in a health-first mindset should really be focusing on something else. What we need to worry about is slipping into a “Thanksgiving eating” mindset that lasts for weeks or months. With Thanksgiving being on a Thursday, it’s easy to slip into a mode of overindulging with promises of “living it up” for the long weekend before getting back to a more sensible eating plan on Monday. The reality is that every day that passes with loose eating rules is one more day that makes it harder to stick to our plans.

The Secret to Eating Healthy on Thanksgiving: Make a Plan for Friday

Having a plan to return to sensible eating without feeling deprived in the days following Thanksgiving is really what differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful in this arena. Don’t just make a plan to go grocery shopping to stock up on better foods the weekend after Thanksgiving. This is when the temptation to stay in holiday eating mode will be stronger than most people can handle. A better option is to have your fridge pre-stocked with tasty, satisfying meals that you’re going to be happy to reach for when you’re ready to resume post-Thanksgiving normalcy.

What’s the Truth About Being Derailed by Thanksgiving Overeating?

As promised, it’s time cover if splurging on Thanksgiving really can derail your goals. According to Women’s Health, this probably isn’t something you have to worry about. It’s nearly impossible to gain weight “overnight.”

“In order to gain weight, you’d have to eat 3,500 more calories than you typically eat and burn off to maintain your figure,” according to the magazine. That means that you’d have to add an additional 3,500 calories on top of the 1,600 to 3,000 you’re already eating as a man or woman following the standard dietary guidelines. It works out to be 5,100 to 6,500 calories consumed on Thanksgiving Day. The fact that the average American consumes 3,000 calories during just Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t make this impossible. However, it is pretty unlikely.

There’s something important to remember here. That 3,500 calorie figure does not take into account calories burned. That means that every bit of physical activity you do on Thanksgiving Day is added to your forgiveness column. You have every reason to plan a Thanksgiving hike, family walk, friendly dance party, or post-meal flag-football game! Those fun activities can genuinely help you offset your huge calorie spike for the day. They will also give you a nice energy boost that will leave you even more energized to resume your healthy lifestyle the next morning.

Should You Splurge on Thanksgiving If You’re Trying to Lose Weight?

Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving! There’s no reason to put yourself through suffering just because you happen to have some weight-specific goals in mind. Go ahead and eat what you love without guilt if you believe that a little splurging is what makes life worth living. If possible, do your best to make little substitutions along the way during Thanksgiving to help you to enjoy what you love without adding unnecessary calories. The bottom line? It’s more important to focus on your mindset going into Thanksgiving dinner than it is to focus on your calories if you’re in it for the long game. Thanksgiving is just one day. Your mindset for getting back to healthy eating after a lovely day with family or friends is what will ultimately make or break your goals.

Overstuffed is only good when we’re talking about the turkey… not our stomachs. Follow these 10 tips to eating healthier and lighter during this feast-worthy holiday.

Festive gatherings filled with friends, family, and food. That’s what often comes to mind when thinking of Thanksgiving day. But, for some, this day carries a lot of anxiety.

“How will I maintain my healthy lifestyle throughout the holidays?”
“There are never any healthy meals at dinner. I just shouldn’t go this year…”
“What’s the use? My diet is ruined, I might as well just eat whatever I want.”

Pssst… we have a secret for you: THANKSGIVING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! Okay, sorry. That was a bit aggressive. But, it’s true! With the right game plan, you can conquer this holiday guilt-free and without restrictions. Thanksgiving won’t derail your health goals, and we’ll show you how.

Why We Fall Off the Wagon Every Thanksgiving
Millions of Americans will gain a pound over the holidays, despite a well-thought-out diet plan held throughout the year. The reason these diets fail around Thanksgiving is that they address the wrong problem. It’s not your willpower.

It’s the environmental cues we surround ourselves with that trigger our appetite and food habits. Thanksgiving, especially, combines some of the worst environmental cues for overeating. There is plenty of food easily accessible, lots of company to share the moment, and an increasing amount of variety. Your willpower is easily overwhelmed by all of these cues to eat.

How to Combat the Holiday Food Guilt
When it comes to sticking to your nutrition plan and keeping the holidays as healthy as possible, it’s important to alter the environmental cues around you. Now, this doesn’t mean avoiding get-togethers with family and friends or restricting yourself by any means. All we encourage you to do this holiday is to follow these 10 guidelines as best you can:

1. Keep It Squeaky Clean Leading Up Dinner

Thanksgiving week can often be filled with tumultuous treats and recipe sampling leading up to the big day. But, it’s important to keep food quality high during this time. Focus on crushing protein and veggie-heavy meals throughout the week as well as the day of.

While many individuals skip meals on Thanksgiving day in preparation for the feast, sticking to small, satisfying meals will help curb your appetite for dinnertime. Start your day with eggs and toast or a bowl of whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk to avoid overindulging later that day.

2. Offer Up Your Cooking Skills

Walking into someone else’s party without your own food is asking for hidden calories. Instead, offer to meal prep for the occasion, bringing healthy side dishes filled with veggies, fruits, or proteins. These types of foods are always lacking around this holiday, so switch it up and provide a healthy option for you and others! This also gives you the opportunity to make some smart swaps with foods traditionally high in calories.

For example, mashed potatoes! While we love these tasty spuds, the appeal is more about the lush, smooth texture than any standout flavor… as well as a vehicle for gravy. However, you can swap out the mashed taters with pureed cauliflower instead. This cruciferous vegetable has six times the Vitamin C, twice the fiber, and fewer calories than the standard spud.

Not a master chef? We can help! Choose from any of our a la carte options to ensure there’s a healthy, tasty side dish ready for you at dinner.

3. Fill Up on Fiber & Water

Eating a nutritious meal with protein and fiber before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices. However, it doesn’t have to stop there. Try to fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies come feast time.

This may include brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, bell peppers, or a green salad. Aim to make your plate as colorful as possible. As well, sipping on water throughout the day will curb cravings and keep you full in-between meals!

4. Limit the Bubbly

These fun gatherings often call for a splash of liquid courage. But this doesn’t have to derail your healthy eating habits. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and those alcohol calories that can add up quickly.

If you do have alcohol this Thanksgiving, have it with food. Also, set a goal to minimize any boozy drinks to about 2-3 servings. In between drinks, sip on some refreshing La Croix, Zevia, Kombucha, or water.

5. Stick to Your Routine

Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean your routine has to change. Crush some breakfast, hit a workout, or take a time-out to recharge from family and friends. If you love journaling in the morning or taking a mid-afternoon walk, DO IT! Consistency is key to keeping your healthy habits alive and well during the holiday.

As well, try to keep your food routine the same, if not similar. Eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady. If your meal is served later than normal, eat a small snack at your usual mealtime and eat a little less when dinner is served.

6. Police Your Portions

Thanksgiving tables are bountiful and beautiful displays of traditional family favorites. But before you let Aunt Irma stack your plate high with “a little bit of everything,” scout the buffet table to decide what you really want to treat yourself to. Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.

If you are still hungry after your first plate, head back for seconds to sample a bit more. Start conservative and add as your stomach sees fit.

7. Feast on Your Favorites

No food is on the naughty list. Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long. Choose the dishes you really love and can’t get any other time of year. Fill half your plate with small portions of holiday favorites and the other half with healthy veggie options.

Or if appetizers are your thing, grab a plate and fill up. No sense saving yourself for the main meal if turkey and trimmings leave you cold. Don’t feel obligated to eat specific foods, regardless if they’re deemed “bad” or “good.”

8. Get Physical… Physical

Getting physical and staying active means many things to many people. But when it comes to the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving, fitness doesn’t have to be so strict. Make it a family adventure! Take the kids for a walk early in the day or after dinner. It is a wonderful way to get some physical activity in a fun and social way.

While you may burn off the calories from your future meal, there are other benefits to being active. Exercising before a meal puts you in a positive mindset with an eye toward health, and exercising afterward can help banish that uncomfortably full feeling. Find which option works best for you and your schedule!

9. Savor It Slowly

Ever sit down for a delicious meal only for it to be over in the blink of an eye? You weren’t able to truly appreciate everything that went into the meal. This often leaves you unsatisfied and over-stuffed.

Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied. Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber will also add to the feeling of fullness.

10. Enjoy the Day with Friends and Family

Thanksgiving is not just about the delicious bounty of food. It’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends. The main event should be socializing and spending quality time together. Even if you slip up during this time, you can easily get right back to healthy eating with your next meal.

The most important thing about this holiday is being able to enjoy it with loved ones instead of stressing over what the scale might say the next day. Remember Thanksgiving is a holi-DAY, not a holi-WEEK or holi-YEAR. Become aware of your environment and adjust your habits to conquer the day successfully!