Tips for Making Sure the Bird is the Only Thing That Gets Stuffed This Thanksgiving

1) Know the facts: The average Thanksgiving meal contains more calories than the average American needs in an entire day (for many, itís almost double the amount they need in a day), and can contain the amount of fat grams required for an entire week (source: The American Council on Exercise: 229 grams of fat). The average American gains 7-10 pounds over the entire holiday season (source: CNN). Donít be a statistic! Think you are just going for a family holiday? Nope!! You are going into battle. Be prepared. This is a mental-emotional battle, so be on guard and remain proactive.

2) Focus on the reason for the season. This holiday, keep the primary focus on thankfulness, rather than feasting. Think of the food as a periphery item, a fringe benefit.

3) Enjoy the company. Are you getting together with family and/or friends? Celebrate relationships, take pleasure in the conversations, play games, start a new traditionÖ. just be together.

4) Recognize the food-love connection you have. Does your family have the same connection? Does you mom show love by preparing tasty, yet high-fat meals? Understand that food is a substance and love is an emotion- they are not the same thing.

5) Practice your refusal skills. What will you say to turn Aunt Ednaís gravy soaked butter biscuits down? What will you say when you are subject to peer pressure to eat? How will you handle comments like "I worked so hard to cook this!" and "Is that all youíre going to eat?!" Practice your responses. If you donít feel comfortable telling people that you are trying to trim up, maybe a health-related excuse will be more comfortable. Someone may argue with "I want to look better," but whoís going to argue with "I want to reduce my cholesterol so I donít have a heart attack."?

6) If you are helping to prepare the food, chew gum. This will help you avoid nibbling enough calories to make a meal while you cook. If you are worried about how something tastes, have someone else (preferably the thinnest family member) sample it!

7) Remember, it takes the stomach about 15-20 minutes to signal the brain that it is full. By then, weíve usually overeaten- especially during the holidays.

8) Yes, you can gorge yourself like a gluttonous pig, but you donít want to! You have the right to eat to your heartís content- and then some. You can pile your plate as high as your chin and dig in! You CAN eat until you make yourself sick. BUT, you donít WANT to. Remind yourself of this continuously.

9) Want to taste it all? Then do just that- taste it. Just because you want to enjoy all of the foods served during your familyís dinner, doesnít mean you need a full serving of each dish. Take enough to allow yourself one or two bites of each item. Serve yourself slightly larger portions for low fat items and for the turkey. Eat slowly, savoring every bite. Tell yourself that if you are still hungry 15-20 minutes after you finish what is on your plate, you can have more- again, in moderation.

10) Donít skip dessert. If you deprive yourself, you may be setting yourself up for greater temptation. Have dessert. But, have a small portion. Again, savor every bite. When you are done, say "That was delicious!" instead of "I wish I could have more."

11) Donít hang out by the food. If you park yourself in front of the hors d'oeuvres, you just may graze yourself an extra 300- 1000 calories before you even sit down to dinner. If you must eat before the meal, pick a few low-cal items, put them on your plate, and move far, far away from the food.

12) Drink water. Make sure you always have a glass of water in your hand. Your hands and mouth will be occupied and it will help to fill up your stomach a bit so you donít overeat.

13) Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol provides "empty calories." They offer no nutritional value. Think of it in these terms: every drink should equal a serving of carbohydrates. If you must get drunk in order to handle your family, make other holiday arrangements! If they must get drunk to handle you, seek therapy- fast!

14) One dayís worth of indulgence Ė especially during the holidays- has the potential to balance out one to two weekís worth of workouts. (Think about it: 3,500 calories per pound.) Remember all of that sweat? Make sure it was for a good reason. Think of all of your progress and hard work while you are serving out your portion sizes onto your plate. What you put into your body during Thanksgiving just may make the difference of what dress size you will wear for that Christmas party.

15) Look for more tips online at

Melinda Rice is a fitness consultant and writer based in Northern California. She manages Successful Fitness (, a personal training program that incorporates concepts of psychology, nutrition, wellbeing and fitness into a Lifestyle Transformation plan. You can reach her at

Submitted by:

  • Name: Melinda Rice, CPT
  • Date: 01/10/06 at 11:32
  • Email:
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