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Thanksgiving Meal Plan of Attack

I work on the newsletter for my department at work. It's lots of fun but I never know if people like the stuff I write. So I'm testing an article out on y'all. This has a dual purpose becuase I'm already trying to get my plan of attack ready for the holidays. I'm super disappointed in the difference 8 years makes in the ability to find success on the south beach diet so I'm evaluating my other options - weight watches as the leading plan right now. Point being, the article below is my potential thanksgiving food article. Obviously, plan 1 is not for me . . . but the other are under consideration. How are you going to avoid the holiday weight gain this year?

Avoiding packing on the holiday pounds this season can simply be a matter of awareness. Here are the real life servings and calories for some of your favorite thanksgiving foods:

Food Serving Size Calories

turkey 6 oz 450
ham 3 oz 150
mashed potatoes 3/4 cup 171
dinner rolls 1 84
sweet potato casserole 1/2 cup 300
green bean casserole 1/2 cup 275
cranberry sauce 1/2 cup 200
stuffing 1 cup 400
pumpkin pie 1 slice 450
apple pie 1 slice 410
egg nog 1 cup 400
apple cider 1 cup 120

Total 3410

The total isn’t so bad, but let’s be honest, there more we add to our plate and often forget about:

pat of butter 250
spoon full of whipped cream 100
ladle full of gravy 190

Real Total 3950

YIKES! Nearly 4,000 calories for one meal! Take your weight and multiply it by 12, that’s how many calories you need to maintain your weight. Now taken 4,000 and subtract by that number – that’s your excess calories (i.e. potential weight gain) 3,500 calories = 1 lb so divide your number by 3,500and you will see how much your thanksgiving meal will cost you.

For a 150 lb woman this would be
150 x 12 = 1800
4,000 – 1,800 = 2,200
2,200 / 3,500 = .63 lbs gained from thanksgiving.

And these numbers are just from the one meal, think of all the leftover you have and between potlucks and social gatherings how often this meal may be repeated. So, how to avoid the holiday weight gain? Here are some potential methods:

1. Don’t
It may seem like a terrible idea but if you are a very disciplined person and the holidays are your one time of year to let loose than go for it. Chances are you could gain 1 lb a week from the end of November to New Year’s but those 7 lbs will come off by the end of January if you work a little harder and resume regular eating habits in 2012.

2. Go for it – Once
Admit it, you like the thanksgiving meal; if the thanksgiving meal was a person you would marry it. So, are you really going to be happy by skimping on your favorites? No! So go for it once – on Thanksgiving Day. Yes, you want the gravy. A little whipped cream on your pumpkin pie – yum yum! But that’s it. Once your one meal is over it’s time to return to sensible meals – and take the dog for an extra walk. Oh yes, and NO LEFTOVERS!

3. Smaller Portions
Aunt Milly makes the world best sweet potato pie, but cousin Sally’s apple pie is to die for . . . and don’t forget Uncle Bob’s deep fried turkey. The only thing worse than eating all of those delicious calories would be to hurt your family’s feelings. So take smaller portions, WAY smaller portions and load up on the non fattening food (you know – the ones that don’t have the word casserole in them). Making your offering to the potluck something healthy – so you know there will be at least one thing you can fill up on.

4. Healthy Alternatives
This plan is the easiest to follow when you are the cook. The internet is full of ways to save on calories not on taste when it comes to your holiday favorites. Switching to butter and sugar substitute are the easiest change ups in addition to using low fat milk in place of cream. The calorie difference between 4 oz of white meat turkey trimmed of the fat and skin vs. 6 oz of mixed meat untrimmed is 182. Vegetables are not really supposed to be smothered in cream and cheese anyway so keep them fresh and simple.

No matter wehat you choose, remember what the holiday is all about - Taking time to be with your family and friends and remembering the blessing in your life.


  1. If you are thinking about using this for a newsletter, don't forget to mention the meal hopping that occurs when people have to hit multiple families. I know my rule is that I will eat at house 1 and 3, but won't eat anything at house 2. At house 3, I only eat things that house 1 didn't have. That way, I am not really over eating. It's a take on the smaller portions topics.

  2. I don't know how I missed your blog before but I ran across it on Facebook last night. I'm gonna be brutally honest (because I think that's what you want?)and say cut the math. For a non-math person its scary, confusing, and depressing to look at. If your newsletter is anything like the one Frank brings home from his work, people will appreciate it. I would however, add a healthy recipe in the newsletter, something totally yummy but also low in cals and such. The rest of the article is cute and light heart-ed but the math is scary and depressing. :-p
    On the plan of attack...I'd combine the smaller portions with the healthier for you foods! Just my two and a half cents :-)


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