The Cooper Institute
 

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

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Healthy Eating Tips for Turkey Day!

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Eat better

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015

It’s only one week away! That day of extreme gluttony and couch cruising that kicks off a season of calorie imbalance. Unfortunately, the resulting extra calories get stored as body fat and add to the extra pounds that catalyze many New Year’s resolutions.

But this year can be different – starting with today!

No, we are not going to be the food police and tell you to eat only salad and drink water on Thanksgiving. Still, be mindful that a typical turkey dinner with all the trimmings can be more than 3,000 calories. Add to that the pre-meal snacks and late evening leftover refrigerator raid and you might be eating 2-3 day’s calories in a single day! Here’s how to put calorie balance on your holiday “to do” list this year.

Calories In

Leading up to and a few days after the big feast, cut down a bit on your normal food/calorie intake. Now don’t go overboard and show up to Thanksgiving semi-starved. Simply reduce your portion sizes, especially of high-fat and high-sugar foods, add in more vegetables to help you stave off hunger, and drink plenty of water or other non-calorie beverages.

Calories Out

Simply just move. Look for every opportunity to stand, walk, take the stairs, park farther away, bicycle to do errands, whatever will get your body burning extra calories. On Thanksgiving Day:

  • Catch up with relatives and friends on a walk before or after the big meal.
  • Start a new family tradition by doing the local Turkey Trot fun run/race. Here in Dallas, over 40,000 (yes, that’s 40,000!) men, women, and children walk and trot their way to a slice of Thanksgiving pecan pie. How many calories will this crowd burn on Thursday? About 22 million!!
  • Play outdoor games (touch football is my family’s favorite pre-meal warm-up).
  • Enjoy the wintry weather with snowshoes, skis, skates, or warm boots.

Then keep the momentum you build up this week going. To keep burning calories through New Year’s Day and beyond:

  • Hit the malls – you may not plan on buying much this holiday, but shopping malls offer a warm, lighted, safe, and festive place to be active.
  • Walk to your neighbor’s for a holiday gathering.
  • Invite friends and neighbors to join you on a “jingle bell” walk/run through your neighborhood to take in the holiday lights and sights.
  • Take dogs at your local animal shelter for walks, thereby relieving the staff so they can enjoy time with their families.

Finally, don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to try to lose weight this holiday. Simply not gaining weight will put you way ahead of most people when New Year’s Eve rolls around.

To learn more about weight control, physical activity, and healthy eating, consider The Cooper Institute’s Nutrition for Health and Fitness, Weight Loss Strategies, or Personal Training Education workshops. You don’t need to be a fitness professional to take a course, the general public is welcome.