Thanksgiving Calories Don’t Count, Right?

If you think you are pretty conscious about the amount of food you put on your plate every year at your Great Aunt Bonnie’s house, think again… According to Consumer Reports, the average american consumes more than 4,500 calories at their Thanksgiving meal. WHAT?!

I am 100% guilty for overindulging at Thanksgiving. It is incredibly difficult to pass up my grandmother’s homemade pumpkin pie that I get to enjoy only once a year. But if you are like me, I tend to eat appetizers before dinner and dessert afterwards… Confession time - I even go back for seconds about 3 hours later, after my nap of course.

The breakdown I am about to show you is what you should be consuming… technically speaking it is called the “serving size” on that thing called a nutrition label we hardly ever follow.

Let’s begin with the array of appetizers: (Reminder - all of these calories are only estimates)

2 crackers - 80 calories

1 oz of cheese - 95 calories

1 puff pastry - 70 calories

TOTAL = 245 calories

Not too shabby. But let’s be honest, who stops at just 2 crackers? Now let’s get to the good stuff, the main course.

3.5 oz of turkey - 180 calories

½ cup of stuffing - 195 calories

1 cup mashed potatoes - 240 calories

¼ cup gravy - 25 calories

¼ cup cranberry sauce - 105 calories

½ cup green bean casserole - 230 calories

4 oz candied sweet potatoes - 190 calories

1 dinner roll with a slab of butter - 225 calories

TOTAL = 1390 calories

I will put some of these portions into perspective for you - ½ cup of stuffing is the size of 1 scoop of ice cream, ¼ cup of gravy is only 4 tablespoons, and who only eats 1 warm, fluffy dinner roll?

My favorite part of the entire day… dessert!!

1 slice of grandma’s pumpkin pie - 280 calories

1 slices of apple pie - 410 calories

1 slice of pecan pie - 500 calories

1 scoop of vanilla bean ice cream - 140 calories

TOTAL = 1330 calories

So you are probably doing the math now and are saying to yourself, “This doesn’t add up to 4500 calories…” You are right, it doesn’t. Again these are only based on the actual recommended serving sizes per dish. This doesn’t include the glasses of wine which run you about 125 calories for 5 ounces. And depending on your family, one glass of wine is just not going to cut it for 4+ hours of together-ness.

If you are trying to lose weight, maintain your physique, or gain lean muscle mass -  the idea of the copious amounts of food at Thanksgiving can be a daunting thought. These are some tips to avoid the food coma that is associated with the holidays:

  1. The first line of defense to avoid over eating is to eat a healthy breakfast full of fiber to keep you fuller longer. You won’t feel the need to eat as much if you are not hungry by the time appetizers are served.

  2. Stick to your fruit and veggie trays as your appetizers - but avoid the dips that usually go with them.

  3. Drink plenty of water! Water is not only going to aid in digestion for the main meal, but it will also make you feel fuller avoiding overeating.

  4. Eat the fiber rich foods - all of those veggies your mom told you had to finish before you could eat dessert.

  5. Exercise!! Make sure you don’t miss your work out just because it is a holiday… Stick to your routine regardless. Plus, you won’t feel a guilty eating that piece of pumpkin pie knowing that you burned those extra calories this morning.

  6. This tip is going to be the toughest for most people - bring your own meal. This is what I am doing this year due to my dietary restrictions. My meal is going to be a sweet potato with cinnamon (no butter), steamed green beans and carrots (vegan butter), stuffing (my own way), and roasted eggplant as my main dish (no turkey)

As the holidays are among us, it is way too easy to lose sight of our fitness goals. We are here to keep you on track and motivated this holiday season! Need some help, come see our Fitness Director Myranda for a consultation.

We are just here to plant the seed with you…

Shannon Kirkpatrick

P.S. You can find the recipe I am using for my stuffing here:

Helping Hilton Head Island Get Fit Like Never Before

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