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Most people I know love Thanksgiving. But did you know that your Thanksgiving meal my be the reason for your New Year’s diet?
For those who don’t know me, my name is Cassandra Suarez, registered dietitian nutritionist and personal trainer. When I was preparing for this presentation, I wanted to do something seasonal and what better topic than Thanksgiving dinner, which is the start of many other social gatherings and holiday events. If I had to list all my favorite things about Thanksgiving it would include friends, family, and the food. But there is also a darkside to thanksgiving. After the Thanksgiving meal, I often feel so full and bloated from all the food. I often have to excuse myself and lie down for a bit or unbutten my belt to relieve some of the pressure. I was curious about how much we actually eat at Thanksgiving dinner. So I made a list
You gotta have your drinks with company
So I started listing all the ingredients that make up popular holiday dishes…. And I was amazed by how at first glance Thanksgiving dinner looks like the healthiest meal with all 9 servings of fruits and vegetables at one meal! Mashed potatoes, carrots, green been casserole, sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes, potato salad, pumpkin soup, and the list continues. But then looking deeper it is quite evident that these dishes contain a lot more than the veggies that give them it’s name. Sugar is marshmallows in the sweet potatoes, whole sticks of butter in the mashed potatoes, fried onions and cream of mushroom soup on the green been casserole, a pound of sugar in the cranberry sauce. Every recipe I saw seemed to pile sugar, fat, and salt until the vegetables were hardly recognizable. And those are just the vegetable dishes! Then I started thinking about January first and all the flooded gyms full of people who are trying to lose the weight they gained from the holidays. So that got me thinking about ways to prevent the weight gain in the first place.
Here are 6 tips to take to your next holiday party.
What if I told you that your plate has more control over your food than you do? Many studies by Dr. Wansink from Cornell University have shown that people are relying on environmental cues to signal fullness instead of listening to their bodies. For example, many people use visual cues from an empty plate to signify satiety. [Slide 8] If given a larger plate, most people subconsciously put about 30% more on their plate. Depending on the food, this can be a 150 calories difference per serving. Over the course of the year, 150 calories more per day is a 15-pound weight gain all else equal. And this is just one meal a day using a larger plate.
• Completely fill a small plate (810") • Enjoy your meal!• Do not go back for seconds• Using a small plate reduces your calories without making your feel like you are depriving yourself
• When you first arrive at a party, locate the fruits and vegetables• Fill one small plate (810”) and enjoy as you are socializing • Wait 30 minutes before you select any other food choices• Follow the Rule of 3s below
Thoughtfully evaluate the delicious food options and select your 3 choices • Fill one small plate with your favorite 3 foods and enjoy!• Still hungry? Head back for some more vegetables and fruit
Plan Exercise on the day of the event Walk a track or neighborhood Take a walk between dinner and dessert Start your day with yogaSign up for a class or race (turkey trot)
• For every drink you have, match it with a water/selzer before you other another drink• Set a drink limit prior to each party/social gathering
• Eating "poorly" one day is not the reason you gain weight after a holiday or social gathering• It is important to return to you usual healthy routine at your next meal
In closing, Thanksgiving and all these other social gatherings and holidays are not just eating holiday. These holidays are wonderful opportunities to get together with family and friends and remember what we are truly thankful for. I challenge you to pick at least one or two of these strategies to try at your next holiday party! Commit to them by writing them down and sharing them with at least one support person prior to heading to your event. I hope you found this presentation helpful and I hope to see you come January healthier than you were in November! Thank you.
A Typical Thanksgiving Dinner:
• Turkey (dark meat with skin): Serving size: Two - three slices (8 oz.),
• Stuffing: Serving size: 1 cup, Calories: 320
• Green bean casserole: Serving size: 1 serving, Calories: 160
• Mashed potatoes and gravy: Serving size: 1 cup + 1/4 cup of gravy,
Calories: 240 + 205 (445 total)
• Cranberry sauce: Serving size: 1 slice, Calories: 85
• Cornbread: Serving size: 1 piece, Calories: 175
• Sweet potatoes with marshmallows: Serving size: 1 heaping scoop,
• White wine: Serving size: 1 glass, Calories: 120
• Pecan pie: Serving size: 1 slice, Calories: 505
• Pumpkin pie: Serving size: 1 slice, Calories: 320
Total Calories: 3,170 (Not counting second helpings, snacks or other meals
during the day, or drinks)
A Typical Christmas Dinner/Day:
• Breakfast: 1110 Calories
– A hearty family breakfast: 2 pancakes with butter, syrup, sausage links: 600 Calories
– Orange Juice: 110 Calories
– Eggnog: 394 Calories
• Lunch: 775 Calories
– Nibbling on a few cookies and another glass of eggnog instead of a full lunch
– Appetizers: Chips, nuts, crudité with dip: 1190 Calories
– Christmas Dinner: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, veggies, salad, rolls,
butter and gravy, several glasses of wine or beer. 1730 Calories
• Dessert: 1158 Calories
– 2 servings of sweets plus another small glass of eggnog
• After Dinner:
– Sandwich with leftovers: 500 Calories
Total: 6,560 calories
What’s in Popular Holiday Dishes
6 Tips to Bring to Thanksgiving Dinner
(or any Social Gathering)
1. Small plate
2. Healthy Start & Wait
3. Rule of 3’s
4. Get Moving!
5. Alcohol Matching
6. Party’s Over & so is the Eating!