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Healthy Thanksgiving isn’t an oxymoron

November 23, 2011

It’s true! Thanksgiving feasts can be quite healthy and delicious, the two aren’t  mutually exclusive.  Eat the white meat on the turkey for a relatively healthy source of protein, and root veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes or yams, parsnips, and squashes taste terrific when roasted.  Just beware of  those foods high in sugar and fat that lurk tableside, like the marshmallows and candied yams.

Thanksgiving turkeyI’m re-posting these healthy tips I’ve gathered from the interwebs so you have some tips and tricks to help you survive survive the Thanksgiving table dilemma: to eat it or not to eat it, that is the question. Props to ACE Fitness for the excellent article.

“The good news is that there are some simple changes you can make to your Thanksgiving plans this year that will save you some calories (without sacrificing taste or your reputation) and add some fun to your holiday.


  1. Fit it all on one plate. Prevent over-stuffing yourself by fitting your Thanksgiving feast all on one plate (This works best if you don’t use an oversized plate filled to the brim). Sample small portions and avoid going back for seconds. If you’re tempted to return for more, give yourself 20 minutes (about how long it takes to feel full) first.
  2. Eat slowly. Thanksgiving foods are likely to be richer and more filling than your everyday fare, so eat slowly and savor every bite.
  3. Enjoy the company of family and friends. Socialize during your meal and festivities. You can’t eat and talk at the same time — so the more conversation you enjoy, the less you’ll eat.
  4. Get moving. Sign up for a local Turkey Trot 5K or 10K and spend your Thanksgiving morning getting some exercise. Not only will you burn some calories, but you’ll also enjoy some holiday fun!
  5. Make some easy Turkey day substitutions.For example:
    • Eat the white meat without the skin instead of the dark meat with skin and shave off 190 calories.Turkey — white meat, no skin (6oz): 180 calories, 3g fat
      Turkey – dark meat, with skin (6oz): 370 calories, 20g fat
    • Make your own cranberries rather than the jellied stuff and save 120 calories.Cranberries (boiled in sugar) (1/2 cup): 100 calories, <1g fat
      Jellied cranberry sauce (1/2 cup): 220 calories, <1g fat
    • Cut the marshmallows on your sweet potatoes and instead add a little bit of spice to save 100 calories.Sweet potatoes, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg (2/3c): 200 calories, 3g fat
      Candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows (2/3c): 300 calories, 3g fat
    • Skip the green bean casserole and instead just steam some green beans and cut 110 calories.Steamed green beans (1/2C): 20 calories, <1g fat
      Green bean casserole (1/2C): 130 calories, 7 g fat
    • Choose pumpkin pie over the pecan pie for dessert and decrease your caloric intake by 160 calories.Pumpkin pie (1/8 pie): 340 calories, 15g fat
      Pecan pie (1/8 pie): 500 calories, 25g fat
    • Add it all up and you find that you’ve saved yourself 650 calories.
      More Healthy Total: 850 calories, 23g fat
      Less Healthy Total: 1500 calories, 56g fat

There are 3,500 calories in a pound, so if you calculate the calorie savings from these substitutions, you will find that you saved yourself nearly ¼ pound weight gain! That’s not including the other four other tips above that will help you eat less and move more and save yourself from holiday weight gain. Try adding a few new traditions to your holiday this year with some healthy Thanksgiving Day recipes.”

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