From the golden, roasted turkey to the buttery mashed potatoes to the slice of homemade pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving is a festival of favorite family foods. For many though, it's also a guilt-ridden, downward spiral of diminishing willpower and unhealthy, unwanted pounds continuing through the New Year.
One meal = 3,000 calories (!!)
The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's nonprofit fitness advocate, suggests balancing caloric intake over a several day period and committing to physical activity to stay healthy through the holidays.
"To burn off a 3,000 calorie Thanksgiving Day meal, a 160 lb. person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours or walk for 30 miles. Many people don't just stop at the meal, snacking throughout the day can lead up to a total caloric intake of 4,500," says Dr Cedric Bryant, ACE chief exercise physiologist. "But it doesn't have to be this way, all foods can fit into a quality diet and exercise plan, including holiday delicacies."
8 secrets to a healthy holiday
1. Plan meals ahead
You can make up for a feast of rich, higher-fat foods with lighter, lower-fat meals for the next couple of days. Or plan for tomorrow night's party with a low-calorie, low-fat breakfast and lunch.
2. Manage your celebration meals
Look back and assess your diet over the past few days. Were you on the party circuit last weekend? Then look ahead. Are there celebrations looming?
3. No guilt!
Don't panic or feel guilty if your diet seems to have gotten out of hand. When you balance your intake over several days, you have the time to regain control.
4. Stay active
Make physical activity a regular habit. Beyond burning calories, exercise is essential for good health and well-being.
5. Eat a light meal before The Meal
Have a salad, light soup or fruit before leaving home or prior to your meal.
6. Indulge in rare, special treats
Select only "special" or favorite foods at a holiday buffet -- leave standard fare like potato chips, nuts and rolls for the other guests.
7. Don't drink too many calories!
Space the party beverages -- have a glass of sparkling water after a glass of wine or cup of eggnog.
8. Just a little of everything...
Practice portion control. A smaller serving of the real thing can be very satisfying.