Enjoy that Thanksgiving meal, but don’t over do it

Published 7:17 pm Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ashley Corbett is a registered dietitian at Vidant Beaufort Hospital and Vidant Wellness Center Washington.

Ashley Corbett is a registered dietitian at Vidant Beaufort Hospital and Vidant Wellness Center Washington.


By Ashley Corbett

As we approach Thanksgiving, food becomes more of a “front and center” part of our activities. We take pride in cooking our traditional foods and we tend to eat more than we normally would at a normal meal.  So, how can we enjoy our holiday favorites without it causing a weight gain, elevated blood glucose or the typical “nap” after the meal? Let’s review some tips:

On the day of Thanksgiving, eat breakfast. We tend to think if we skip breakfast; it will help us save calories later on during the day. Actually, by skipping breakfast, we would be setting ourselves up for overeating due to that “starved” feeling we would feel once we were able to eat. If you eat a light breakfast, you will be able to control your hunger better and be able to make more wise choices with your food. Eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism that helps your body use your food more efficiently. Try some yogurt with fruit or oatmeal on Thanksgiving morning.

Only eat those “special,” “once-a-year” foods on Thanksgiving. If you tend to eat bread, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes with gravy on a regular basis throughout the year, do not eat them on Thanksgiving. Why waste calories on food you eat all the time when you can save those calories for your Grandma’s sweet potato fluff? Scan the table of food, with your eyes, and mentally pick which foods you will eat that day – focusing on the special foods vs. the commonly eaten foods.

Decrease the amount you put on your plate. If you plate huge amounts of everything on your plate, not only will you feel obligated to eat it all but you will probably feel uncomfortable after eating it (a nap, needing to unbutton your pants, etcetera). Take one spoonful of each “special” item you decided on eating and then go sit down. Take each bite slowly and chew thoroughly. Enjoy each bite as it was intended to be savored. Talk with your family members in between bites to help your meal last longer. If you still feel hungry after consuming your smaller portions of specific foods then small portions of second helpings are OK. But, you may find that you are satisfied after eating those smaller portions and not feel the need to overeat.

Take a walk after your meal. If you overeat at Thanksgiving, you will probably feel the need to take that nap mentioned above or unbutton your pants to allow you to breathe. Those are symptoms your body is giving you in hopes that you will realize you ate more than you should. Symptoms are intended to help us learn what action caused an uncomfortable reaction in our body to possibly prevent it from happening again. Yet, we over eat every Thanksgiving. This year, follow the above steps and then after your meal, take a walk in your neighborhood with your family. Doesn’t have to be a long or fast walk but enough to get you active. Sound hard to do? Taking a walk after a (large) meal will help with the digestion of the meal as well as help you burn some of the calories from that meal!

Give thanks. Thanksgiving is one day a year that is specifically intended for us to “give thanks.” Instead of food being a focal point, focus on your friends and family — especially if you have not seen them for long periods of time. Share an activity together like quilting a blanket or ride bikes instead of having food be the center of that gathering time.

This Thanksgiving, make a good effort at preventing yourself from eating more than you should. You can still eat the food — just eat less of it.

Ashley Corbett is a registered dietitian at Vidant Beaufort Hospital and Vidant Wellness Center Washington.