Carving Out a Nutritious Thanksgiving Meal

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the Calorie Control Council states the average American will consume roughly 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat during that day. This type of overindulgence would give any competitive eater a run for his money. Some might see the holidays as a time to put their health and fitness goals on hold, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With some discipline, planning, and the right mind set, you can prevent yourself from falling off of the fitness wagon.

Planning ahead is essential.  Be prepared so you always have the option to make healthy choices.  If you are not hosting Thanksgiving, check ahead to see what is on the menu.  Offer to bring a particular dish to balance any nutritious food shortage.   Be aware of mindless eating:  where you munch on foods without realizing how many calories you are consuming.  Eat slowly, mindfully, and do not linger around food in order to avoid potential excess calories.

Making small changes will help minimize unwanted calorie intake and ultimately an increase in fat weight.  Eat a healthy and balanced breakfast as well as additional nutritious meals every couple of hours prior to the big feast.  This will help decrease overeating. Alternatively, starving yourself beforehand is not a wise decision either;  this tends to result in overcompensation, which also leads to stored fat.

If you are cooking, choose fresh fruit and vegetables over canned and frozen foods, with preservatives.  Substitute canola or olive oil, which are healthier alternatives to vegetable oil. Choose sweet potatoes and yams, a more nutritious option to white potatoes, and make sure to keep the skin on since it is high in fiber. Trim the turkey skin due to its high amount of unhealthy fat.  Substitute foods high in calories, fat, and/or sugar, with their lighter counterparts.  Not all turkeys are created equal;  be aware of self-basting birds, that are injected with a high salt water solution to preserve moisture, which leads to high sodium levels.  Check the label!

Focus on filling your plate with healthy choices:  white breast meat, sweet potatoes, and vegetables, while limiting the amounts of stuffing, dark meat, and turkey skin.  Make sure to eat enough during the meal to satisfy your taste buds and stomach, in order to not overindulge in calorie dense desserts.  If you conveniently left room for some, opt for healthy choices like fruit salads or desserts made from clean eating recipes.  If traditional pie is a necessity, choose  pumpkin (with minimal whipped cream) over higher calorie pecan or apple.

For beverages, limit alcohol consumption and sugar-sweetened drinks; instead choose water or low sugar alternatives.  Not only does it add a significant amount of excess calories, but alcohol stimulates food consumption and can also increase subjective feelings of hunger.  Click here to learn more on how alcohol negatively inhibits your exercise and nutrition goals.

With the start of the holiday season right around the corner, the potential of unhealthy food choices is vast.  It is important to know the dangers that might lie ahead.   Educate yourself to make smarter eating decisions.  Want other healthy food alternatives for Thanksgiving dinner or general nutrition advice for optimal performance? Contact Dan at (978) 807-8579 or visit to learn more

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