Mindful Eating for Thanksgiving

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Did you know that the average American consumes up to 4,500 calories during their Thanksgiving Meal? Let’s put this into perspective- an average healthy person should consume anywhere between 1,500-2,500 calories daily depending on their age, gender, height and weight. If we average this out to 2,000 calories per day, a typical Thanksgiving meal is packing in over double our daily caloric needs for the entire day.

During this time of year, eating in moderation seems to go out the window. Don’t let the holidays derail your healthy efforts. By mindfully eating this Thanksgiving and listening to your body, you’ll be able to avoid overindulging and manage your weight. Here are a few of my favorite tips for mindful eating this Thanksgiving:

Choose A Smaller Plate

If you have the option, try putting your food on a salad plate instead of a large dinner plate. You’ll be forced to choose smaller portions and carefully select which foods you are going to mindfully indulge in. Our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs; try to sensibly fill up your plate and enjoy your meal. If you choose a balanced meal, you won’t need to go back for seconds or thirds.

Go Easy On The Appetizers

When I was growing up, I used to eat every appetizer in sight during the holidays as if I was going to starve. One holiday I realized a very simple concept—there was still a full meal ahead of me. There is no need to waste calories and get overly stuffed by mindlessly eating calorically dense appetizers. If you’re not careful during the beginning of your Thanksgiving feast, you may spend the majority of your calories on chips and dip. Opt for water-based fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber but low in calories. Munch on fresh crudité and save some calories for your dinner meal. Remember, there is always a full meal ahead.

Minimize Leftovers

All of the guests are gone but the fridge is still packed with leftovers. Don’t let Thanksgiving last longer than it needs to; get those extra leftovers out of the house to avoid mindlessly grazing throughout the week. Pack a small container of leftovers for each guest as they leave, or try your best to make just enough food for the family to avoid waste.

Don’t Drink Away Your Calories

Soda, juice, alcohol, and specialty drinks can add up in calories and sugar content. Would you rather spend 300 calories on soda or a piece of your mother’s special pecan pie? Instead of grabbing the pie and a soda on the side, opt for calorie-free drinks such as water, flavored seltzer or tea. You’ll save yourself a large chunk of calories and hydrate the right way.

At the end of the day, some special holiday foods only come around once a year. You should be able to sample foods without going overboard. Listen to your body and honor your hunger at all meals. Keep in mind portion control and moderation this Thanksgiving.

Stefani Pappas, MS, RDN, CDN, CPT, is a Clinical Dietitian Nutritionist at St. Francis Hospital. She also provides private and group nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck, NY. Visit her website www.StefHealthTips.com for more information
and to schedule an appointment.

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Long Island Weekly columnist Stefani Pappas, RDN, CPT, is a clinical dietitian at St. Francis Hospital. She also provides private and group nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck. Visit Stef Health Tips for more information.

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