Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving Health Tips

By Courtney Westlake

Turkey and stuffing and pie, oh my!

"Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because the holiday is about food," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC. "I like to stuff myself silly!"

This year, however, Jillson has resolved to have a healthier Thanksgiving, and she has several tips on how to enjoy yourself and all of the delicious food on the holiday while still sticking to a healthy lifestyle.

Eating in moderation, cooking light and exercising will take you a long way in having a healthy and comfortable Thanksgiving, she said.

"In the morning, go for a quick walk to burn some calories, and don't forget to eat breakfast," she advised.

And if you're hosting the family Thanksgiving meal or helping to cook, choose the "lighter" options of ingredients.

"Make sure to use fat-free or light sour cream, plain yogurt and fat-free chicken broth for your recipes," Jillson said. "If you are making a pie, try to go crustless this year and just put the pie in the pie dish without crust. It saves 150 calories per slice without the crust."

Try to use smaller plates this year to help you eat smaller portion sizes.

"For portion sizes, you want to visualize a deck of cards, 2 computer mice, then some salad and two slivers of pie," Jillson said. "If you have a smaller plate, it looks like more on your plate, and you will eat less without realizing it."

Don't attempt to save all your calories for the one big Thanksgiving meal, Jillson advised. Eating a hardy breakfast will jump-start your metabolism and help you to be more comfortable the entire day.

"Most people have a tendency to be so busy throughout the morning and forget to eat breakfast or think they'll save up calories for that one meal," she said. "But halfway through, you'll be full and continue eating, and then be stuffed. So you'll be more comfortable if you're not starving when you sit down to dinner."

"You can always go back for seconds," she added. "Take a little bit of each dish, and then when you eat it all and are still hungry, you can get more."

Your stomach is about the size of your two fists together, Jillson said, so if the food on your plate won't fit in your two fists, put it back.

And finally, you don't have to simply eat and lay on the couch all day; family activities are fun and help you burn off some of the calories from those cheesy potatoes or pumpkin pie.

"Go for a walk after your Thanksgiving meal or organize an active family game," Jillson suggested. "Food digests better, you're more comfortable, and you can burn some calories from that extra slice of pie you had."