November 14, 2018

Planning can offer equal helpings of health and enjoyment.


Counting calories


Think you can’t enjoy Thanksgiving if you’re on a diet or trying to eat healthier? Well, thankfully, you’re wrong.

According to Vanderbilt’s Stacey K. Kendrick, M.S., health educator, the word of the day is balance.

“People tend to think that if they are watching their weight or trying to eat more healthfully they cannot have any of the Thanksgiving treats they love,” she said. “When we feel deprived, we often end up saying, ‘What the heck,’ splurging and then feeling guilty. The reality is that even if we are trying to be healthy and eat nutritiously, we can balance that with a few Thanksgiving treats, enjoy the day and not feel deprived.”

Balance is important to keep in mind when planning out the menu as well. Often the typical table doesn’t include enough healthy options to balance out the amount of fat and calories we consume. Kendrick suggests adding steamed vegetables with olive oil and lemon juice, or mashed sweet potatoes, to complement the creamed corn or stuffing with gravy.

Still worried about navigating the buffet?

“Peruse all of the holiday offerings before you make your final selections. Then, go back and choose a few of your indulgent favorites to splurge on small tastes of, like those super creamy mashed potatoes with gravy or the candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows,” Kendrick said.

As seen in the infographic above, food isn’t the only tasty treat adding to your calories.

“People often forget that the beverages we consume contribute to the calories and fat we take in on that day. If you really want a cocktail, try a spritzer. Mix equal parts white wine with carbonated water for a fizzy and refreshing drink.”

No matter what you end up treating yourself to this holiday, it’s always a great idea to counteract those extra calories with some physical activity.

Kendrick suggests taking a family walk, planning an active morning adventure or scheduling a workout early in the day to get it out of the way before the busy day begins.

“The more calories you burn, the more you can consume and you will likely feel better,” Kendrick said.