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Your Thanksgiving Day Survival Guide

Author: Cara Walsh

November 19, 2012

Your Thanksgiving Day Survival Guide

Author: Cara Walsh

November 19, 2012

Roasted turkey with gravy. Mashed potatoes. Cranberry sauce. Sweet potatoes with the little marshmallows on top. Stuffing and rolls with butter. All of that before dessert even hits the table, and let’s face it, not many people turn down pumpkin or pecan pie. Did you know that the average person consumes up to 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day? Yikes!


Thankfully, there are several very simple things you can do to help minimize the calorie damage on the big day. There are also lots of ways to satisfy your cravings for Thanksgiving flavors, without sabotaging all of the weight loss progress you’ve already made. Now that you know the damage, try a few simple tricks to lighten your fork load!


  1. Make a plan. Are you cooking? Plan your meal to be full of vegetable side dishes and salads so that you know the fat and calorie content of your food. Sitting down at someone else’s table? Bring a healthy side or a salad so that you know there’s something there that you can eat.


  1. Eat first. This may sound counterintuitive – why should you eat more? But, if you eat a big salad or bowl of vegetable soup before the big meal, you’ll have less room to eat the unhealthy carbs and sides that tend to populate the Thanksgiving table. Plus, you’ll have gotten in an extra serving or two of low calorie and yummy vegetables.


  1. Skip the yoga pants. Though we all love a good pair of comfy pants, they are not your best friend in this situation. Wearing tighter or more fitted pants will cause you to register that full feeling and help you stop eating much quicker then in a stretchy pair of yoga pants.


  1. Drink water. It’s easy to overindulge in alcohol or other sugary cocktails. In addition to packing on the calories, drinking alcohol lowers your inhibitions and makes it easier to make poor food choices. Infuse a glass of water or seltzer with cranberries, citrus, or your other favorite seasonal flavors instead.


  1. Practice portion control. It’s okay to want to eat your favorite foods. But grab a measuring cup from the kitchen so you can measure out exactly what your portion will be. Just winging it can cause you to eat more than a serving of a given food, and way more than you intended to eat.


  1. Load up on vegetables. Veggies deserve more love on Turkey Day. Pile greens on your plate first, so you have less room for other stuff. Adding a variety of vegetables will offer more Lean and Green friendly options.


  1. Consider healthy alternatives.


  • When it comes to TURKEY, don’t wing it. This part of the bird has nearly twice the amount of saturated fat as the breast meat.


  • Sauté green beans in a bit of olive oil, not a glob of butter, to keep them light. Unlike boiling, sautéing stops their nutrients from leaching out.  For an extra zing, bake with Medifast Cream of Chicken Soup and White Cheddar Soy Crisps!


  • Mashed potatoes are easy to overeat. No cutting, no chewing, no stopping! Beware of portions, and to stay lean and green friendly, try out the Medifast California version of CAULIFLOWER MASHED POTATOES! Certain stores offer purple or orange cauliflower if you are feeling festive.


  • Sweet potatoes. Who doesn’t love the sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows on top? Consider a simple baked sweet potato instead. Add a little cinnamon on top for an indulgent flavor without the guilt and sugar of the casserole.


  • Skip dessert, or choose to Medifast brownie or Medifast California chocolate chip cookie it up! Pecan, apple and pumpkin are popular T-Day Desserts that add extra unwanted calories, fat and sugar on this day.  The Medifast cookbook offers many dessert ideas that are sweet treats that will help you stay on plan!


  1. . Keep active with family and friends! Play outdoors, initiate video games that make you move around and involve everyone. Avoid that stuck on the couch feeling, fighting a food coma. You don’t want an over-eaten feeling of regret.


  1. Eat slowly. Instead of scarfing down your dinner, take time to savor your food. Have a conversation with the person sitting next to you and really enjoy the meal, company and ambiance. This will help you recognize when you are feeling full so you can stop eating before you overindulge.


  1. Pop a mint. When the meal is over, pop a sugar-free breath mint or chew a piece of gum. The minty flavor signals that the meal is over, and also changes the flavor of food, making you less likely to continue to pick at the food on the table.


  1. Help clean up. Instead of sitting around after the meal, get up and start clearing the table. Keeping busy by cleaning up not only keeps you from eating more, but also burns calories! A double benefit!


  1. Give yourself a break. Remember, this is only one meal. If you overindulge or eat a little more than you intend, give yourself permission to enjoy it and recommit the next day. Don’t let one day sabotage your entire weight loss journey, and don’t beat yourself up over the slip.


Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!



About the Author:

Cara Walsh
Counselor at The Carmel Mountain Ranch Medifast Weight Control Center
Cara Walsh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Weight Control Counselor. Cara received her bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science from San Diego State University and completed her dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian through the Utah State University. Cara is currently completing her Masters in Dietetic Administration through Utah State University. Cara has always had a passion for healthy eating and cooking. She loves to focus on how food can heal and provide nutrition-while tasting delicious. Cara thrives on helping others reach their full potential nutritionally. In her spare time she enjoys reading, going to Pilates and running the boardwalk on the Pacific Ocean with her son and husband.

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