Tuesday, November 22, 2011

4500 calories, a turkey idea, and what Ratatouille and Survivor have in common

Break out the maternity pants, it's Thanksgiving!!
 The average Thanksgiving dinner is 4500 calories.  If that doesn't scare you then you have no idea what calories are or how many you should be eating in a day.  4500 calories is roughly three times the amount of food you should have in a day....packed into one meal.

An average person (I believe it is actually based on a 150 pound person) burns 100 calories per mile.  So if you are going out for the annual Turkey Trot, you are only burning about 310 calories (give or take a few).  If you wanted to burn all the calories in the average Thanksgiving dinner you would need to run 45 miles.  I don't know of any annual 45 mile Turkey Trots, do you?

So, what's a person to do??  Do we boycott Thanksgiving?  Do we serve steamed veggies, brown rice, and grilled chicken breast, with fruit for "dessert?"  Do we suck down a turkey flavored protein shake and call it a day?  No way!  It is Thanksgiving and part of this holiday is gathering around good food.  I think, and disagree with me if you want to, overindulging occasionally is fine.  But when I say overindulging I do not mean by 1000's of calories, I am talking about 100's.  So this takes me back to my original question: what's a person to do??

I think the best thing you can do is go into Thanksgiving informed and make a game plan based on that information.  I saw this on my AOL ticker this morning and thought it was pretty great.  It shows you the what a serving size looks like and how many calories are in each.

It is my opinion that when you know better you do better...oh wait that's Oprah's opinion, but I still agree with it.  It is my untrained, non-credentialed advice to take a look at the calorie counts of your favorite foods and just count them up before Thanksgiving.  Knowing how many calories you are planning on consuming can help keep your plate in check!  Here is an example of a typical, but well portioned Thanksgiving meal:

1 cup of salad (with dressing)- 125 calories
3 oz. of turkey (white meat)-135 calories
1/4 cup of gravy- 50 calories
1/2 cup mashed potatoes- 145 calories
1/2 cup of stuffing- 180 calories
1 roll- 180 calories
Butter for the roll- 35 calories
1/4 cup cranberry sauce-105 calories
Pumpkin Pie with no whip cream- 323 calories
Total Calorie Count-1278 calories

So even a well portioned meal (which, let's be honest, we don't always dish out a well portioned serving) is still way over the amount of calories we should consume in one sitting.  Oh, and I didn't even include everything that tends to find its way to the Thanksgiving feast (like yams with marshmallows, jello molds, green bean casserole, giblets(?), and sugary drinks).  

Here are some strategies to help keep the calories down:
  •  Be picky.  Pick your favorites and leave the rest.  I don't love cranberry sauce.  I don't hate it, and I will eat it, but it isn't my favorite thing.  But for some reason every year I put it on my plate and eat it.  Now that I know a quarter cup of the stuff is over 100 calories, I won't be choosing that this year.  I will save those calories for my favorite- mashed potatoes sans gravy!
  • Cut all your portions in half.  Maybe you don't want to be picky.  Maybe everything looks great and there isn't a thing you want to leave behind.  Half or quarter your portions and you can still enjoy all your favorites.
  • Pass the salad!  Fill half your plate with salad or other vegetables and eat those first.  If you fill up on lower calorie fare then you won't have as much room for the calorie rich foods.
  • Pass on the toppings.  Gravy, butter, heavy dressings, and whip cream can make your calorie count sky rocket.  If you are going to use them, use them sparingly.
  • Keep your other meals light, but not too light.  Don't go into the meal starving because that is a recipe for overeating.  But maybe choose lower calorie options for the other meals you will be eating that day.  
  • Screw it!  I'm eating!!  And now the strategy most people will take, the screw it option!  Forget all my advice and eat way too much.  Buttoning your pants is overrated anyway.
Okay, I am not trying to be the holiday buzz kill.  I just think with knowledge comes power (Oprah probably said that too) and simply knowing how many calories we are consuming can make us think twice about what we are shoving in our pie hole. 

I will leave you all with two random things:
1.  Here is a great idea for all of you cooking a turkey. 
2.  This is for the Survivor fans.  I was watching Ratatouille this morning with my kids and realized that if you put glasses on the chef :
he looks an awful lot like this guy:
Cochran in all his nerdy glory.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!!  And of course happy (responsible) eating!!  Good luck to everyone who will be racing on Thanksgiving.  Also, good luck to everyone who will be cooking for mass quantities of people (I'm talking about you Marcia!!). 

What is your favorite holiday health tip?

What are you going to splurge on this Thursday?

Who is Turkey Trotting or Gobble Wobbling?