According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American Thanksgiving dinner contains about 3,000 calories (serving sizes not applicable on this day traditionally stuffed with gluttony, garnished with pleasure). And that’s just the holiday meal! Many of us hors d’oeuvres our way through another 1,500 calories before and after the big meal. More cider, anyone?
Added together that means you may be consuming more than 4,500 calories. This is more than double the normal daily caloric intake and does not even include breakfast or round two of the desserts. There’s more. Nearly 45 percent of these calories come from fat, tallying up to a staggering 225 grams of fat that are, on average, consumed during a traditional holiday dinner with turkey and all the trimmings. How much is 225 grams of fat? It’s roughly equivalent to two sticks of butter. Surely, this is not what the pilgrims had in mind.
So why is it that we eat [and eat and eat] sometimes to the point of misery on this national day of thanks-giving? Is it an attitude of entitlement to pleasure, that holidays are to be enjoyed, and somehow that equates to happiness and celebration by eating? Or is it the idea of plenty that we are thankful for? Are we fostering a tradition of unhealthy binge eating and packaging it as “the holidays” to our families and children? Whatever the reason(s), subconscious or otherwise, kick the unhealthy habits steeped in tradition. Be deliberate in your meal (or dish) preparation. As women we are often orchestrators of the Thanksgiving feast, and thus are in a unique position to make a serious impact and change-for-the-better. You can still have all of the traditional dishes, just consider making some small changes to lighten your holiday meal. It’s not about depravity, but rather content and moderation. Would rather have a full piece of pecan pie (503 calories per slice)? Then make a plan and commit to expending more calories. Instead of joining the 80-plus percent of Americans that spend 3.7 hours in front of the television on Thanksgiving, reconsider how you are spending time with your family. Studies show that family involvement in weight control/loss interventions improve weight outcomes for both parents and children. So, in lieu of retiring to the couch after dinner start a new, calorie-burning family tradition like taking a walk or hike (30 minutes burns about 175 calories). Need more ideas? The Mayo Clinic and American Heart Association encourages you to try some very doable holiday tips.
As you prepare Thanksgiving menus and shopping lists, consider the thankfulness you have for your health and appreciate its fragility. Not only for Thanksgiving, but consider making changes and healthier choices during the barrage of holiday celebrations from now through the new year. Spend your new year’s resolution efforts on something other than weight loss and vows to exercise. Small changes can have significant, long-lasting impacts … for you, your family, and your children. What will be your new tradition?