Six Tips to Curb Thanksgiving Calorie Intake

Thanksgiving dinner is frequently the meal that sends people into a downward spiral of bad eating habits for the holidays.

It's not easy to make good decisions at the table when you're surrounded by so many once-a-year, favorite dishes - and that can start you on a course to pack on pounds over these next few weeks.

But your calorie consumption doesn't have to be so high that you stuff yourself like a turkey!

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On "The Early Show on Saturday Morning, dietitian and personal chef Diane Henderiks offered some great tips to help keep your holiday feasting under control and keep you from going overboard on Turkey Day:


I'm not the food police. I completely understand that Thanksgiving is a holiday and it's a special occasion. People don't go around eating like this every day of the year, nor should they.

But the truth is that you can easily pack in 3,500 calories in a Thanksgiving dinner, and that equates to one pound. So you can gain a pound in just one meal. Can that pound be worked off? Yes, but nobody wants to do that much work for one dinner.

So what can people do in order to not overeat this Thanksgiving and still enjoy their meal?

I've got a lot of great tips to fully enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and the holiday feeding frenzy without feeling guilty or gaining weight.

The first thing that people have to decide is whether they really want to be mindful. If you're not committed to eating well at Thanksgiving dinner, then you're just not going to. It's that simple. People need to be in a motivated mindset. You've got to be in the right "frame of mind" to successfully not succumb to temptation during the holidays. Now is the time to either begin or continue being aware of good food choices.

The biggest mistake people make on Thanksgiving Day is that they try to not eat anything beforehand, thinking it will balance out the huge meal that they're planning on eating for dinner. This is wrong. Don't go to the table famished! Have a wholesome breakfast and lunch, and eat a light snack an hour before dinner. You are more likely to overeat and make unhealthy choices if you are famished. That snack could consist of some fruit, like an apple or a banana, some unsalted nuts, unsweetened yogurt, a big salad with a light vinaigrette, or even some celery and peanut butter.

My next tip is to lighten up on the liquids. Drink lots of water, and replace sugary beverages with seltzers infused with fresh juices, herbs and spices, iced herbal teas. Cut down on alcohol: Booze can pack some serious calories. If you choose to have a cocktail, drink one glass of non-alcoholic, unsweetened beverage for each alcoholic beverage consumed. Choose wine, spritzers, light beer or spirits mixed with no calorie beverages, as opposed to eggnog, cream drinks etc. Another problem is that what most people think is one serving of wine is actually three, and that can really increase your calorie intake.

Another thing to keep in mind is that deprivation leads to indulgence. Don't skip your favorite stuffing or side. Taste everything you desire, but watch the portions of high fat and high sugar items.

I like to think of the meal in terms of a dinner plate diagram. When you look at your plate, half of it should be filled with sauce-free, steamed, roasted or baked non-starchy veggies. Then you should have one cup of cooked starches, which is about the size of a tennis ball. Then, your protein should be about 3-6 ounces of lean protein, which is about the size of a deck of cards, or your BlackBerry! How the times have changed!

The last important thing is to be mindful of your stomach and when you get full. I like to call it the satisfaction signal. Listen to your stomach. Eat slowly and stop when you feel satisfied. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal your stomach that you've had enough. Pay attention to what it feels like to be satisfied and not full.
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