23 November 10 Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving! It is a holiday focused on sharing great food with friends and family. But how do you handle the holiday when you are trying to lose weight? The caloric impact of a no holds barred Thanksgiving is not trivial. The caloric surplus could easily be several thousand calories if your holiday celebration starts the day before and ends Sunday night. Do you shun the holiday in a furious quest to stay on track at all costs? I hope not! How about a compromise? The following four strategies will help you maintain rather than gain weight over the holiday.

1. Modify recipes for most dishes so that they are lower in calories
2. Use traditional recipes for your absolute favorites
3. Exercise portion control for all choices
4. Be active most days of the holiday

Limiting Caloric Damage

Limit added sugars and fats. One tablespoon has: 50 calories for sugars and syrups, 100 calories for butter or margarine, and 120 calories for vegetable oils.

Turkey. You really can't go wrong with any part of the bird but both the skin and dark meat are higher in fat and calories than other parts. For a standard 3 oz portion, skinless turkey breast has about 115 calories whereas dark meat with skin has about 190 calories.

Mashed potatoes. Try mashing with low fat or fat-free sour cream, nonfat Greek yogurt and skim milk instead of regular sour cream and whole milk or cream. Limit portion size to 1/2 cup (about one large ice cream scoop's worth).

Gravy. Skim the fat off pan drippings before using for gravy (fat will float to the top when it starts to cool). If you are using a store-bought gravy, then choose a low-fat version.

Stuffing. Make stuffing in a pan instead of in the bird to avoid absorption of fat drippings. Use turkey broth and a small amount of olive oil instead of butter to moisten the stuffing. Or, try using a small amount of butter for flavor along with mostly broth and low-fat whipped butter for texture.

Beverages. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram compared to 9 calories for fat, and 4 calories per carb or protein. The higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories. Also, drinks with added sugar, syrup, juice, or soda pop will be higher in calories than those made with non-caloric beverages. See below for the caloric content of commonly consumed drinks.
- 12 fl oz light beer, about 100 calories
- 1.5 fl oz of hard alcohol (distilled spirits) about 100 calories
- 5 fl oz wine , about 120 calories
- 12 fl oz beer (5% alcohol), about 150 calories
- 4 fl oz hard eggnog, about 300 calories
- 12 fl oz margarita on the rocks, about 470 calories

Desserts. Pies can rack up a lot of calories due to both the crust and sweet filling. Limit portion size to 1/8 pie slice (cut pie 4 times to get 8 slices). Pumpkin pie averages about 300 calories per slice whereas pecan pie averages about 500 calories per slice.
Save calories by choosing plain cake (e.g. Angel Food Cake) over frosted or iced. Fresh fruit with low-fat or fat-free whipped cream is typically less than 100 calories per serving.
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Holidays / Parties/Thanksgiving

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