The very first Thanksgiving in 1621 was a harvest feast that lasted for three days. Centuries later, we still celebrate this holiday of bounty and gratitude, but we do things a little differently. Instead of eating venison, lobster and shellfish, we feast on roast turkey, stuffing and candied yams. And instead of eating for three days straight, we just do three days’ worth of eating in one day. That’s right; according to the Caloric Control Council, the average American consumes 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving dinner is certainly not a time when self-control comes easily, but there are some tricks of the trade to help you control your portions as you indulge in your favorite holiday foods. Before fill your plate, remember these tips to keep you from stuffing yourself like a turkey and slipping into a food coma.
Use a Smaller Plate
You’ll want to try a little bit of everything from your Thanksgiving spread, and rest assured, if there is space on your plate, you will fill it! Using a smaller plate will encourage you to take smaller portions, which will help cut down on calories overall. Instead of the standard 10-inch dinner plate, use a 6 to 8-inch plate instead.
Learn to Eyeball Portion Sizes
It might be tempting to take a heaping scoop of macaroni or an extra-large piece of pumpkin pie, but those extra calories add up quickly! Become familiar the with appropriate portion sizes for your favorite foods and learn to estimate those portions by sight. Registered dietitian Mary Ellen Herndon recommends limiting yourself to three ounces of turkey (the size of the palm of your hand), 1/2 cup of stuffing and potatoes (the size of one hand, cupped), and 1/4 cup of gravy (the size of one medium egg) (Source: Houston Chronicle).
Avoid Mindless Munching
It’s easy to lose track of your calorie intake when you mindlessly snack on hors d’oeuvres before the big meal. Instead of grabbing a handful here and there, place your hors ‘oeuvres on a plate so you can see how much you’re eating.
Choose Second Helpings Wisely
It doesn’t matter how accurate your portions are if you end up returning for seconds (or even thirds). If you do decide to return for seconds, be sure to choose your food wisely. Instead of another scoop of mashed potatoes or a second slice of pie, help yourself to the salad or vegetable tray instead.
Everyone wants to indulge at least a little bit on Thanksgiving Day, and with proper portion control, you can! With a measure of self-restraint and moderation, you can enjoy your favorite holiday foods without a heaping side of guilt. Now that’s something to truly be thankful for!