Thanksgiving Strategy

We’re not going to tell you to give up your beloved turkey and stuffing, so you can breathe easy and keep reading. But there are some super simple strategies you can use to help keep calories in check while still enjoying your meal.

Brined Herb-Crusted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy; Anne Burrell

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

We’re not going to tell you to give up your beloved turkey and stuffing, so you can breathe easy and keep reading. But there are some super simple strategies you can use to help keep calories in check while still enjoying your meal.

Thanksgiving Morning

There’s no need to starve until the big meal. Make a quick and easy breakfast that’ll give you enough energy to last until turkey time. The last thing you want is to be famished and cranky when guests arrive.

In my family we love to schedule our annual football game in the late morning to help us build up our appetite. It also gets in our daily dose of physical activity and we get to snap some wonderful family memories!

Not into football? What about a turkey trot? Round up family and friends and get running (or walking). Turkey trots are popping up around the country so check for one in your local area.

During the Feast

Each year my youngest brother finds the need to pile his plate so high that we can’t see his face (and he’s over 6-feet tall!).  He finishes his first plate like Speedy Gonzalez and re-fills his plate just as high! There’s just no need to eat so much that you need to unzip your pants and roll yourself home. Although my bro admits that he likes the food hot out of the oven, I always tell him leftovers can be just as tasty warmed up in the oven or stovetop (as opposed to the microwave). Also, take time and enjoy this phenomenal meal. Savor every bite and listen to your body when it says it’s full.

Here are some other tactics to keep in mind:

Turkey
  • Lay off the fried turkey and go for the traditional oven-baked instead.
  • Whether light or dark meat is your vice, take off the skin or take a small bite. You can cut 10 calories and 2 grams of fat per ounce by forgoing the skin.
  • 3 to 4-ounces of turkey is plenty given all the other goodies that are on the table.

Sauces and Sides
  • Survey your options: take a once over before making your final decision.
  • Don’t fill up on the usual. Spend your calories on those dishes that only make it to the table once a year!
  • Use the 2 tablespoon rule—take 2 tablespoons of all your favorites (including cranberry sauce and gravy).

Desserts
  • Check out the desserts and choose your favorite. A sliver of pie is all you need, especially if you’re feeling pretty full from the main meal.
  • Use the 2 tablespoons rule if you need your pie a la mode.
  • Share a slice.

Bevvies
  • It’s fun to have a cocktail or two before or during the feast. But don’t go overboard! Too much alcohol can cloud your judgment and lead to overindulgence.
  • Juice, alcohol, and soda all have calories—if you can skip it, then do. Opt for water or seltzer instead. It can save you a few hundred calories.
TELL US: Which Thanksgiving strategies do you use?
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