Trim the Trimmings of Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is known as the day of eating excessively and calories galore, A.K.A. not a good time to be on a weight loss diet. What if I told you that you could still enjoy thanksgiving and avoid that feeling of guilt and miserable fullness in the evening? Hard to imagine, I know. Every year is probably the same… Wake up, help cook, snack, watch football, eat the meal, clean up, watch more football, break out dessert, collapse on the couch. Without breaking tradition, let’s try to incorporate some new activities into the agenda to maintain our healthier habits.

  • Think realistically, and focus more on maintaining your current weight rather than losing. With all the surrounding family and friends not dieting, it will be difficult to be the odd man out.
  • Start the morning with a trot around the block, a 5K event, a family walk in the park, a football game, or even a quick trip to the gym. Not only will you burn calories, but you will feel better about your extravagant intakes throughout the day.
  • After your morning workout, or even before, eat a protein-rich breakfast to sustain your appetite until it’s time for the big meal. Starving all day in hopes of saving your appetite and calories will actually cause you to eat more!
  • Portioning is key! No snack, side dish, or sweet treat is off limits, just try to control the amounts. Avoid returning for seconds, and be sure to put chips and dip on a small plate rather than standing at the counter. This will help monitor how much you are actually eating.
  • Remember that leftovers are delicious, and you can save your favorite dishes to take to work for lunch the following week and savor the flavor of this holiday.
  • Eat slowly, enjoy your food, talk and visit with your friends and family. This will help decrease your desire for a refill.
  • Incorporate fruits and vegetables wherever possible into the meal. Roast vegetables as a side, include fruits in desserts or create a colorful fruit salad. It is definitely still possible to keep half of your plate fruits and veggies for thanksgiving!

Love Your Leftovers… Safely! 

As mentioned before, leftovers are great to enjoy for a few days after thanksgiving, but keep in mind these few tips!

  1. Refrigerate items within 2 hours after preparation.
  2. Remember the “4-Day Throw Away” rule for refrigerated items as a precaution to foodborne illnesses.
  3. If you’re unable to eat the leftovers right away, freeze them to help them last a little longer.
  4. When reheating foods, be sure they reach an internal temperature of 165 F, especially the turkey!

Campus Tip: 

How long do you need to walk off…

Grandma’s pumpkin pie (1/8 of 9” pie)? ~83 min. 

Mom’s cornbread dressing (1/2 cup)? ~31 min. 

Sweet potato casserole (4 oz)? ~66 min. 

Created by: Taylor Smith, Graduate Student, Dietetic Intern 

For more helpful information on your favorite thanksgiving treats, visit

More helpful tips:

Click on image to enlarge
(Originally posted by Melinda Hershey, SparkPeople Blogger 11/10/2012)
Click on image to enlarge
(Originally posted by Jackie Haven, Acting Executive Director, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, 11/21/2013)

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