Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How "unhealthy" is Thanksgiving dinner?

Happy Thanksgiving folks!  Tomorrow we will gather with our families and friends, and stuff our faces with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, yams, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls, salad, pumpkin pie, and others...  Depending on the source of information, the average American consumes 3,500-5,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day.  Yikes.  That is a lot.  However, this is not as bad as you might think.  For one thing, unless you stuff yourself with huge amounts of leftovers for the next several days, one day of overeating is easy to counteract.  Studies have shown that people of normal weight are programmed to "handle" a bolus (that is, an abnormally large amount) of calories through temporary metabolic increase, excretion, and a tiny bit of temporary weight gain.  Overweight folks, however, are less lucky.  Their bodies are more likely to go straight to storing the extra calories as fat because their metabolisms are already programmed that way.  Also, you can give yourself a little boost by going for a walk with the family, heading outside to toss the football around during halftime, and spending hours on your feet bustling around the kitchen and cleaning up. 
There isn't much inherently bad about Thanksgiving food.  You can eat white meat turkey, potatoes, green beans, green salad, cranberry sauce, and some pumpkin pie without going too overboard and get a very well-rounded meal.  Notice I skipped stuffing and rolls because they are mostly empty calories and just up your carb intake.  Gravy, butter,alcoholic drinks, and regular soda are also big calorie adders. Your overall diet year-round has a lot more to do with your weight and health than one or two big meals on Thanksgiving.  Just don't use the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to indulge constantly.      

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