Last Updated on November 22, 2017 by Michael Brockbank
Thanksgiving is one of the most food-fueled days of the year for millions of people. Families gather around a table while Grandma tries to stuff everyone full with every morsel of food on the table. Unfortunately, this also leads a lot of people overeating and surpassing proper portion sizes altogether. If you’re trying to focus on health, what can you do to enjoy Thanksgiving without vastly increasing the calorie count?
Why You Should Avoid Overeating
I have to take great care when it comes to overeating. If I stuff myself too full, I develop several internal issues that I would much rather avoid. And although adding more body mass is always in the back of my mind, it’s other more immediate issues that I don’t want to face.
Here are a few of those issues many people are affected by throughout the year by overeating.
A lot of people suffer from diarrhea by overeating. I have been able to track my cut-off point thanks to tools such as MyFitnessPal. If I go 1000 calories in the red using this calorie counter, I can pretty much guarantee the next day will have toilet-based repercussions. And according to how popular one of articles is on this website regarding the topic, I’m not the only one.
Heartburn is another thing I am plagued by when I overeat. Of course, I also get heartburn from spicy foods. It gets so bad that I debate buying stock in the company that makes Pepcid. However, this usually isn’t a problem during Thanksgiving. Perhaps it has more to do with the amount of breads and lighter-seasoned foods.
This one is fairly obvious. Overeating leads to weight gain as well as several other problems including mental imbalances. However, it’s one that is always on my mind during this time of year only because there are so many goodies available at my disposal.
Avoiding Thanksgiving Portions and Overeating
Last year, I tracked everything through MyFitnessPal to keep my calories monitored during Thanksgiving. I was shocked to realize that the entire meal itself was quite low. In fact, I had enough calories left over to have a second helping. Here is what I did to keep my eating from getting out of hand.
Go Light on the Breading
The two biggest calorie providers in most Thanksgiving dinners are rolls and stuffing. Did you know that an average single role has more calories than a 4oz serving of turkey? Depending on the size and type of roll, you could be vastly increasing your carbohydrate count just from the most simplest addition on your plate. Even stuffing has an incredibly high calorie count thanks to its components.
Try to keep your roll-eating to a minimum. It’s OK to have one, maybe two, as long as you adjust how many other foods you pile on your plate.
Proper Turkey Portions
In reality, turkey has an incredibly low calorie count when comparing to everything else on the Thanksgiving table. According to experts, the proper portion size for this tasty bird is 4oz. Now, this may not seem like a lot until you take the time to actually weigh it on a scale. It’s quite a bit of meat for a single sitting.
I know you might not carry a scale around with you everywhere you go. Depending on how thick the slices of turkey are, 4oz is perhaps enough meat to cover your hand. Put your hand out over your plate. Do you see turkey jutting out from the edges of your hand? I know this isn’t very scientific, but it may give you an idea about how much food you’re packing on your plate.
Personally, I scoop potatoes using a 1-cup measuring unit. That’s because I am a bit anal when it comes to tracking precise numbers. Once cup of potatoes is actually quite a bit when it’s placed down on your plate. As long as you don’t go too hog wild with the gravy, this should be more than plenty.
Mashed potatoes are usually high in potassium and various vitamins. Unfortunately, they are also high in calories and carbs. On average, one cup of mashed potatoes has more than 200 calories and 30 grams of carbs. Try to stick to just one cup.
Keep the Stuffing Low
On average, one ounce of stuffing can hold more than 100 calories, 20 grams of carbs and nearly 400 milligrams of sodium. If you pile on too much, it can greatly affect your ideas for keeping healthy. I usually try to keep this at a minimum only because I don’t come across really good stuffing all that often. A lot of times I find it to be too mushy and gooey…something I don’t really like in my foods that try to hold a shape.
Sometimes, it’s like eating wet bread. Not really the texture I’m looking for in a dinner.
Fruits and Veggies
If you don’t think you’ve grabbed enough food, you can never go wrong with fruits and vegetables. Usually, either of these have much lower calorie counts and can be filling when added to your dinner. Personally, I enjoy a nice spinach-mix salad with my meals – which is an ultra-low calorie green.
Be Mindful of Deserts
After a nice and filling Thanksgiving dinner, a lot of people will continue overeating by cramming a pumpkin pie or other desert down their throats. Consider that most of these average-sized slices of pies will contain enough calories, fats and carbs to be considered almost a meal in themselves.
Getting a Bit of Exercise
One way I offset some of the calorie intake during Thanksgiving is by getting in some exercise. Burning the foods you just ate can help keep from feeling like crap the next day. I cannot count how many times I’ve walked several miles just so I could afford to eat an extra slice of pie or add another scoop of potatoes to my plate.
Make it a family tradition to go for a Thanksgiving walk. Not only is it good exercise, but it will impact how the food clings onto your body. Perhaps taking everyone to the park before the meal and playing a family game could be ideal.
Millions of people live in anticipation when it comes to Thanksgiving. There is so much good food available that your mouth can start watering just thinking about it. Be mindful about portion sizes and overeating. There is nothing wrong with leftovers.