It’s just one meal! Ok, at most, one day. Thanksgiving day does NOT have to derail your fitness/nutrition program. You do not have to resign yourself to gaining 5 lbs. It is not a weekend-long event.
Granted, there are family traditions and grandma’s recipes. Heck, my 7-yr. old is already asking for Aunt Stephanie’s cheesecake and ‘half egg things’ (deviled eggs). 🙂
But, let’s put this into perspective:
Here is the calorie breakdown of the typical Thanksgiving meal:
6 oz. of turkey, with skin: 299 calories
sausage stuffing: 310 calories
dinner roll and butter: 310 calories
sweet-potato casserole: 300 calories
mashed potatoes and gravy: 140 calories
green-bean casserole: 110 calories
cranberry sauce: 15 calories
brussels sprouts: 83 calories
pumpkin pie: 316 calories
pecan pie: 503 calories
whipped cream: 100 calories
TOTAL: 2,486 CALORIES
But, that’s just one serving. I can’t honestly say that I don’t go back for more sweet potatoes or stuffing. So, let’s go ahead and round it up to 3000 calories. Let’s also add in a few hundred for the extra snacking we do while preparing the meal. And, lest we forget the booze! One glass of wine, one mixed drink, one beer. Oh, come on. Who just has one glass of wine on Thanksgiving day? We’ll figure about 500 for alcohol.
We’re up to about 4000 calories ABOVE and beyond our normal meals. With your typical day being about 2000 calories, we’re ‘only’ over that by 2000 calories. Then there’s the leftovers. We’ll figure we eat an additional 1000 calories per day for the following 3 days. So, when all is said and done, we have consumed an additional 5000 calories from Thursday through Sunday.
Now, let’s factor in our workouts! A moderate-intense workout will burn 300-500 calories in 30-50 minutes. We’ll factor in 2 workouts from Thursday-Sunday at 800 calories. 5000-800= 4200 net calories consumed. One pound equals 3500 calories. So, here we can see that, in this ‘typical’ scenario, one would have gained just over 1 pound over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Of course, this can all vary depending on your activity level and serving size.
I am completely, 100% in favor of enjoying a Thanksgiving meal. If you eat green bean casserole and Grandma’s stuffing once or twice a year, don’t feel obligated to ‘lighten up’ that recipe! Go ahead and have that whipped cream on your pumpkin pie! Just be cognizant of your serving sizes. Turkey and mashed potatoes, on the other hand…those are things we might have on our meal plan at any given point, so we can relax on those a bit.
You can definitely make small swaps that you will never notice (Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, cut the butter serving in half, nonfat milk instead of half and half, etc…).
The moral here is to enjoy your holiday weekend, but get right back on track Monday. ‘The holidays’ DO NOT have to hang over our heads from Thanksgiving through New Years. We DO NOT have to sit back and let the holiday weight gain happen!