As a former nutritionist, I’d like to share a few pre-Thanksgiving tips to help reduce the traditional spreading-of-the-middle that a lot of us experience at the holidays.

I heard current stats this week stating that the average American eats 2,000 calories in the Thanksgiving meal alone!   Whoah!  That’s more calories in one meal than most Americans need in a whole day! (The average daily requirement is 1,800 calories per day.)  It’s expected that the grand total of calories consumed by the end the day will be 4,000!  Do I have your attention now?

So here’s the deal…Celebrate the holiday and enjoy a nice Thanksgiving dinner, but don’t over-do it.  Here’s a few tips to help:

1) Don’t starve yourself all day to save up for the meal.  Your body needs 200-300 calories at a time spread throughout the day.  When your body doesn’t get the calories/energy it needs, it preserves the stores of calories it has by slowing down your metabolism.  This means that when you do eat, your body won’t burn calories as efficiently and will be more likely to store your calories as fat rather than burn them as energy. 

Metabolism is the process of breaking down and distributing calories and nutrients.  Higher metabolisms burn more calories.  << this is good.     Slower metabolisms tend to burn fewer calories and store more fat.  << not good.

2) Rev up your metabolism by getting extra exercise this week prior to Thanksgiving Day.  At least 20-30 minutes of continuous light exercise is enough to raise your metabolism for up to 24 hours for some people.  Be sure to get exercise early in the day on Thanksgiving before your meal to raise your metabolism, and allow yourself mini-snacks and meals throughout the day until feast time. 

3) If possible, go for a walk outside after your meal.  Oxygen is key for many things in your body, including  metabolism.

4) Eat what you want – within reason!  Watch portion control.  If you want to sample some of everything, take small amounts that would equal one serving for that food group. 

5) Turkey is a good, lean meat that is high in protein.  Eat it and enjoy it!

6) Starches: Potatoes are great for you, too, but minimize gravy and butter.  If eating sweet potatoes, try to avoid or minimize the gooey marshmallow toppings and enjoy the sweet potato part.  As for bread, try to eliminate or reduce your use of butter.  Save your fats for the yummy desserts!

7) Veggies/Fruits:  Excellent for your diet.  Most Americans don’t get enough of them, but watch out for fatty sauces and seasoned butters.  

8  Beverages: Try to drink non-caloric beverages.  Some people get half their daily amount of calories from beverages alone!  On Thanksgiving day, try to keep beverage calories to a minimum. 

9) Alcohol: Although alcohol originates from grains and fruits, it’s burned and stored in your body as a fat.  One beer, one glass of wine, and one shot of alcohol each counts as a pat of butter in your diet.  Just thought you’d want to know!

10) Desserts:  How can you have Thanksgiving and not eat dessert?  You gotta enjoy the good stuff, just don’t indulge.  One nutritionist on the Today Show suggested cutting off the back piece of crust from your pie to save 100 calories.  This would reduce fat intake, too, since pie crust is high in fat.  Watch portion size.  As I said before, if you want to sample some of everything, go ahead, but take small enough portions that the total of what you take is equivalent to one serving of dessert. 

11) Don’t feel like you have to take it all in at one meal!  Remember the first thing I said?  Your body only needs several hundred calories at a time.  All extra calories taken in are automatically stored as fat.  Enjoy a moderate sized meal, and a few hours later go back for seconds or for the things you missed the first time around.  You know, apply the ‘spread the wealth’ spirit to your diet.   🙂

I’ve never felt that people should totally deprive themselves of things they enjoy eating, but sometimes we have to learn to ‘budget’ foods into our diet and eat in moderation. 

Take care.  God bless you.  Have a happy Thanksgiving!