The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Have a Happy, Calorie-controlled Thanksgiving!

Posted in
Eat better

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2008

As mentioned in our previous blog this week, Thanksgiving doesn't have to be the start of a season of calorie imbalance. Instead, we encourage you to focus on family, friends, physical activity, and good food in moderation over the winter holidays. Sounds pretty easy, doesn't it? Until you are faced with a table filled with tempting foods, that is! Here are some tips to help keep you on track:


  • If you must have alcohol and/or sugary drinks, limit yourself to one. Egg nog with heavy cream, sugar, and rum can contain 300+ calories per cup!
  • Choose water with lemon or diet drinks; this will allow a few more calories for your favorite foods.


  • Select fruits and vegetables, when available; or offer to bring a colorful produce tray with low-fat dip.
  • Calories in nuts, crackers and cheese, and other high-fat snacks can quickly add up. Put a small portion on a plate or napkin and spend your time before the meal catching up with friends and family.


  • Sample only what you really like; there's no need to scoop the sweet potatoes onto your plate if they aren't your favorite.
  • Pile on the juicy turkey (without skin) and vegetables without a lot of butter/sauce.
  • Take very small portions of high-calorie foods (like stuffing with sausage or mashed potatoes with butter), eat slowly, and enjoy every bite.
  • Skip the dinner roll - you can have bread and butter anytime!


  • Ask for a half piece of your favorite dessert and put your fork down between bites.
  • Many of the calories in pies and tarts come from the crust; leaving a little behind will lessen the calorie load.
  • If you're too full for dessert, don't eat it! Ask the host to pack you a small piece for tomorrow. Or, just have coffee after the big meal and call it satisfying supper!

What other healthy holiday eating tips can you share?