Ah, Thanksgiving. That great American family tradition, a gathering of loved ones, a chance to celebrate, binge and fall asleep watching football. For many, this annual culinary orgy is one of the great days of the year.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re all in favor of cheating once in a while. It’s a reward for all that hard work, a chance to savor foods usually off-limits, and damnit, to just have fun. But we also believe in living in moderation, not a Paula Deen-Guy Frieri bacchanal of digestive and caloric excess. Here’s why.
According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American eats 3,000 calories for a Thanksgiving meal (with an additional potential 1,500 calories if you’re scarfing down snacks and and knocking back holiday drinks).
Here’s the kicker: 45 percent of that will come from saturated fat. To put that into perspective, the average American will consume over 2,000 calories of fat on Thanksgiving, which equals three sticks of butter. You read right. Three. Sticks. Paula Deen would be thrilled.
So, what would it take to burn off those festive 3,000 calories? For a 160 lb. individual, you would have to (choose one below, or walk on hot, molten lava):
Walk 30 miles
Run for four hours (jogging pace)
Swim for five hours
Oh, and that extra piece of pecan pie that looks way too good to pass up? That’ll cost you an extra 503 calories. Which you can easily burn off with nice 45-minute workout consisting of burpees, air squats, and lunges. Feeling tired yet?
You know the saying: a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. And to think that Thanksgiving is just the first of many holiday binges lined up until the end of the year. If you hit the scales in January and wonder what the Hell happened, that’s why.
So ask yourself: Is it worth it? And what can you do to prevent adding pounds of fat, while wanting to have fun? Here are some suggestions:
- Exercise on Thanksgiving morning. Go for a good run, hit the pool or the gym and rev up your metabolism. By burning off calories in advance, your body can be a furnace for what you’ll be shoveling in later in the day.
- Enjoy, but in moderation. Plan ahead what to eat, what to avoid and how much to consume. Don’t stuff your plate, and skip going for seconds. A good trick is to take a break half way through your meal. Wait 20 minutes for your stomach to adjust before thinking of going back. You’ll likely find you’re more full than you imagined.
- Be cautious, but allow yourself a small portion of something you really, really want. It's okay. Honest. Consider Thanksgiving a reward for all those hours running, swimming, cycling, cranking away in the gym or sweating to the oldies with Richard Simmons. Just be thoughtful of what to allow yourself and nothing more.
- If you’re going to drink, limit yourself, not just because you might have to drive, but to keep calories at bay. Those festive holiday concoctions pack a ton of hidden calories.
- If you’re cooking, consider more healthy but equally flavorful Thanksgiving recipes.
- After eating, go for a good walk. Keeping your pulse up will help in many ways. Besides, snoring and drooling on the couch is never attractive.
So please enjoy Thanksgiving. You’ve earned it. Gather with family and friends, and make it a special occasion. If you avoid eating like this, get in a good round of exercise before the big event, keeping track of your calories and portions, you can have a great – and healthy holiday.
PS In some of the links above, we poked fun at the old version of Paula Deen. To her credit, the new Paula has undergone a significant change in her diet and lifestyle, and we salute that. We wish you, your loved ones and Paula many happy and healthy years ahead. Have a great Thanksgiving.
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