This Thanksgiving, Don’t Get Stuffed!

By Martin Brown

No one in her right mind would start a diet the week of Thanksgiving. It’s like swearing off egg nog just before Christmas.
But for all the millions of us who don’t want to wake up the morning after Thanksgiving feeling as stuffed as that poor turkey was the day before,the time to think about watching what we eat on the big day is well before we sit down to the big feast.
Don’t be a fanatic and try to make Thanksgiving a zero calorie gain day. That’s very unlikely to work and why would you want it to? Chewing on carrots and celery sticks is no way to say, “Happy Thanksgiving.” At the same time there’s no reason to take in five thousand calories in one day when your normal intake is 1,800. On this day of over indulgence, a little moderation can go a long way.
Like so many other aspects of staying fit and keeping slim, a little advanced planning can go a long way. Here’s a five step plan for preparing to fight the annual battle of the bulge:
1. Know your weaknesses and decide what indulgences you want.
For some of us we overdue on wine or the hard stuff, others it’s the dessert plates. Either way, as you probably already know, the calories can go down easy and add up fast. So set your intention to go slow. If it’s booze, sip your way through a couple of glasses, if it’s desert take two of three helpings, but much smaller pieces.
2. Delayed gratification and a slow moving fork.
You can save a lot of calories by chatting when you might otherwise be moving a fork in and out of your mouth. One of the great, but often not used, tricks to eating less is to wait on your food. Use an excuse like you’re waiting for it to “cool down,” or “just taking a breath.” Whatever reason, move more slowly and just like running on soft sand, you’ll go the distance but take a lot longer to get there. Best of all your net gain will be far smaller.
3. Think then eat. Unfortunately for most of us that pattern is reversed.
We eat, eat big in fact, and then think. Just like a thoughtless comment made in haste, food is often eaten before we give any thought to what we are eating. Chances are, like most of us, your Thanksgiving meal is filled with traditional dishes. If that’s the case at your annual feast you probably know the highest calorie dishes and desserts that will be served. So be prepared to nibble around the edges on the really naughty foods and try your best to load up on the veggie plates and other healthy dishes.
4. Move, move, move.
People everywhere are getting smarter about big feast days and you see more of them out walking or biking before, and or after the big meal. You’ve heard this one before, but it can’t be said enough. This is not a day to sit still. Help out with the serving, chop wood for the fire, haul up extra chairs from the basement, or go for a long walk. Never forget that what we consider a huge amount of calories today was pretty normal intake 100 plus years ago on any given day of the year. And yet you can tell by the old photos from the turn of the last century, most people were a lot thiner then than they are now. That’s mostly because they moved, and kept moving. What worked for people then can work for you today, but you’ve got to get up and get moving to prove that.
5. Your best reward comes in the days that follow.
Any way you look at it, eating less, in a sense, deprives you of some of the sheer abandon of eating all that you want on this special day. But think ahead to the days after Thanksgiving. You’ll have the satisfaction that comes from knowing that you can master your appetite even on this, the biggest over indulgence day of the year. What begins with thoughtful eating ends with a slimmer you, clothes that look the way you had hoped they would look, and best of all, a healthier, happier you.


Martin Brown is the Heath Channel Editor for, and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Finding Mr. Right.

His latest book is Fit in 50 Days.

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