Avoid the Holiday Weight Gain

It is finally Thanksgiving week and I am going to take some time off from posting recipes since I am positive no one has anything else on their shopping list except for T-day items. Next week I will be back with some simple and light meals to help you ease out of your food coma.

For now, we are going to talk about exercise and calories. Don’t walk away yet!

Most folks gain a few pounds between now and New Years and I am here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be you. You can get through the Holiday season without gaining weight. It takes a little effort though.

Now I thought about posting all of the higher fat items that you need to avoid at the Thanksgiving table but instead I am going to reinforce the importance of exercise during the Holidays and share with you a few tips for lightening up some of your Holiday dishes.

The average Thanksgiving meal can have 3,000-4,000 calories. Anyone still with me? Let’s see if we can shave off a few (hundred) calories……

Lighten Up Your Holiday Eating

  • When using a several eggs in dish, replace all or half the amount with an egg substitute. You’ll save on fat, calories and cholesterol, but the baking qualities will be the same.
  • Incorporate fat free of low fat dairy when ever possible (including cream cheese, sour cream and milk) or at least use half regular- half low fat. You won’t miss the creaminess in things like mashed potatoes or the flavor in breads and other desserts
  • Like those traditional dips (i.e. spinach dip, ranch dip, french onion) while watching the football games? Use light mayonnaise or low fat sour cream instead of the regular kind. Serve with raw veggies instead of chips and save up some calories for the main meal.
  • Serve healthy finger food while the main meal is being prepared- fruit kebobs, veggie tray, these mushrooms I posted a few weeks ago. Just make sure to put something in your stomach before the big meal so you are not starving when it’s time to eat. You will most likely consume less calories overall by incorporating a healthy planned snack before hand.
  • To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cream sauces, gravy, butter, cheese and whipped cream.
  • Scan the buffet table before you start serving yourself; pick your absolute Holiday favorites and scale back on other items that might be wasted calories.

With that being said, one day of indulging is not going to make you gain weight. It is the whole season- the parties, the heavy food, the lack of activity, the increase in alcohol….it all adds up. If you over-indulge at one party, try to do better at the next one and for time in between.

And after you’ve consumed all those calories……go for a long walk with some family members! I’m not asking you to hit the gym immediately, just get moving at some point. You can still take your post-meal nap, but then do something. Please and thank you.

Here are some examples of activities you can do during the Holiday weekend- calories noted are for 20 minutes of time.

  • Casual Aerobic Dance (that’s right, turn on your favorite tune and go to town): 147 calories
  • Moderate to Brisk Walk (no excuses, I don’t care where you live- sun, snow, rain, humidity….bundle up or strip down and just do it): 75 to 113 calories
  • Jogging (10 minute mile): 227 calories
  • Shooting Baskets: 102 calories
  • Frisbee: 68 calories
  • Housework: 68 calories
  • Stetching/Hatha Yoga: 57 calories

*These are estimates for a 150 pound person

These examples are only for 20 minutes, so go on an hour walk and see what you can burn?! Ok, so it may not seem like a lot, but it’s at least a piece of pie (or maybe half a piece)! Don’t feel like walking? Well at least do some stretching/yoga poses while you watch all that football! I can assure you from years of counseling and personal experience every little bit of exercise helps.

So to summarize, If you know you are going to indulge, you can make it up with exercise and healthy choices for days surrounding the “big meal”. You can manage to get through the Holidays without gaining weight.

And now that my public service announcement is over, have a great Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your family, friends and delicious food!

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  1. Heather says

    I’m about to go to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for our Thanksgiving desserts so I wanted to see if you had any recomendations here first… so I giggled when I read this post b/c this dessert will include some heavy cheesecake! 😉 Which reminds me, can I make a request for your pumpkin lasagna please! It’s too good to not share! Miss you!

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      Oh goodness- if anyone can indulge it’s you! Pregnant and skinny! 😉 Sorry that I’m not cooking this year, but get ready for Xmas recipes…..I’m all over it!

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