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Staying Trim on Turkey Day

Expert offers hosts, guests help on avoiding holiday weight-gain

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- With Thanksgiving tables expected to be laden with an abundance of food, overeating and weight gain are tough to avoid during the holiday.

But Kathy McManus, director of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital, offers some advice for a healthier holiday feast.

For cooks:
  • Ask guests ahead of time if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions. Include a few dishes that suit multiple diets, such as steamed vegetables flavored with herbs.
  • Experiment with recipe substitutions.
  • Eat a satisfying meal before you start preparing the Thanksgiving meal in order to control your munching while you cook.
  • Don't serve high-fat, high-calorie appetizers, such as dips or cheeses. Instead, serve fresh vegetables and sliced fruit.
  • Skin the fat off refrigerated gravy or broth before you use it.
  • Limit desserts to one or two choices and provide guests with a lower-fat, lower-calorie option.
  • Plan a post-Thanksgiving stroll with your family and guests.

For guests:

  • Exercise and eat healthy before Thanksgiving.
  • If you have a special dietary need, offer to bring a health dish to share with the hosts and other guests.
  • Eat a fiber-rich snack before the Thanksgiving meal to help prevent you from eating too much or too fast. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
  • Make wise choices when you're loading your plate. Take only small amounts of foods with saturated fat and high calorie content. Divide your plate into sections: half vegetables, a quarter lean protein and a quarter starch.
  • Beware of "hidden" calories in alcoholic beverages and sugary mixed drinks.
  • Limit yourself to a small serving of dessert.
  • Eat slowly and stop before you're full. It takes about 20 minutes before your body registers that it's full.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about doing holidays the healthy way.

SOURCE: Brigham and Women's Hospital, news release, November 2006


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