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November 17, 2010

Keeping it light on Thanksgiving

Each week, a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center provides a guest post on healthy eating. Have questions or ideas for future topics? E-mail This week, Karen Kolowski weighs in on holiday eating.

It’s the time of the year where sensible eating takes a vacation and unwanted pounds start to appear. Instead, you can plan a healthier Thanksgiving dinner. These tips can help guide you through the day without guilt.

Start your day right Thanksgiving morning, don’t skip breakfast thinking that you won’t “fill up” for the impending feast. Make sure you have a sensible breakfast that keeps you satisfied to thwart the cravings to sneak a taste while cooking. Some options: oatmeal made with skim milk and topped with fruit (frozen works well); an egg with whole wheat toast; or peanut butter and bananas on whole wheat toast. Be sure you make a choice with whole grain (oats, whole wheat breads) and some protein (meat, cheese, nuts and eggs). This combo will let you feel fuller for longer.

Keep it moving Most people in the United States gain at least a pound from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, which is not much, but most keep it on throughout the year. Try starting a new tradition by going for a morning run or brisk walk, which helps create a caloric deficit. After your family meal, fight the temptation to stretch out on the couch and watch football. Instead, play a family game of football outside. By teaching your kids good habits at an early age, you help them appreciate a healthy lifestyle.

Cocktails Thanksgiving gatherings that include a drink buffet can be a surprising cause of a rather hefty caloric intake. Beer contains approximately 150 calories per serving, depending on brands/types, and wine can be up to 80 calories per glass. Drink water to feel full and stay sober between alcoholic beverages and fight off the unwanted calories. Remember to limit alcoholic drinks to one drink for women and one to two drinks for men. Juices and cocktail mixes can also be a source of calories, so watch the portions.

Portion distortion Thanksgiving should not be thought of as an all-you-can-eat buffet or a guilt-free day. You should continue to practice, or start to practice, smart portion control. Fill up half of your plate with veggies; not cheese or butter-laden ones but salad, roasted or steamed vegetables. Turkey, without the skin, or another meat served that day could fill up a quarter of your plate. The final quarter can be reserved for starches of your choice: mashed potatoes, yams or rice. Another trick is to serve dinner with smaller plates. Your plate fills up quicker and you are forced to take smaller portions. It takes 20 minutes to feel full after you eat, so wait before you reach for seconds — you might already have had the perfect amount.

Honorable chef If you happen to be the chef this year, do yourself a favor and cook smarter. Substitute lower fat ingredients, and your guests will be none the wiser. By using olive oil instead of butter on your turkey, you will avoid heart-clogging saturated fat (bad fat) and serve up heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. If your recipe calls for whole milk, swap it for 1 percent: this saves you 63 calories and 8 grams of fat per cup. Use low-fat cheese instead of regular, but avoid the nonfat kind since it won’t melt and incorporate into the recipe as nicely.

Leftovers If you are able to part with your delectable leftovers, package them up and send some home with each guest. This way they have a nice reminder of the meal you shared together the night before, and it removes the temptation for you to pick. But if you just can’t imagine sending all your food away, be creative with your leftovers. Make a turkey noodle soup with lots of vegetables or dumplings that you can steam.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Nutrition


I agree with all of the above. In order to get a jumpstart on the cooking it's a temptation to forego breakfast. This accomplishes nothing.

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Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
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Patrick Maynard, who will be writing about running and walking, has been a producer for since 2008. In 2009, he tweeted on-course for the Sun from the Baltimore Marathon, finishing in just under 4 hours and almost managing to run the whole time. He sometimes walks to the Sun offices on Calvert Street.
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Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
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Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
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