Nutritionists: Enjoy Eating All Foods on Thanksgiving – Remember Moderation New


There’s no sugar coating, folks. Americans eat tons of fatty foods on Thanksgiving.

According to Calorie Control Council estimates, Americans will consume an average of 4,500 calories and between 150 and 200 grams of fat on November 25.

It’s ironic, in a way. Turkey – the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner – is one of the leanest, healthiest meats around. And a slice of pumpkin pie – by far the most popular Thanksgiving dessert – is loaded with fiber and vitamin A. Unfortunately, those slices of turkey and pumpkin pie are often surrounded by side dishes and ‘carbohydrate-rich starters, as well as tasty but fatty desserts.

Does a dieter suddenly have to go into no-nonsense feast mode? Or should they snack on a pumpkin turkey pie and choose from buttered rolls, mashed potatoes in gravy, and sugar-glazed apple pie?

According to local nutritionists and dieticians, people should just enjoy the day.

“For most healthy adults, a meal will not have a lasting impact on overall health,” said Whitney Kitchell, clinical nutrition manager for Freeman Health System. “Our bodies have a way to adapt” to a sudden influx of additional food.

“Thanksgiving is a special day to be with family and friends – we should take advantage of it,” said Dr. Andrea Cullers, co-director of Lion Co-op and associate professor of kinesiology at Missouri Southern State University. “Just make sure Thanksgiving is a day and not a week – try not to make the Thanksgiving celebration too long. If you don’t make it a three month season, you’ll be fine.

One day of the year to splurge on fatty foods, Cullers continued, “won’t hurt anybody.”

According to nutritionist Rachel Hartley, there’s no reason to worry about eating on Thanksgiving. After all, the holidays are mostly built around Americans thanking the country’s farmers for providing an abundance of food each year.

She lives by a simple rule when she sits at the table: eat what you like; convey what you don’t.

“You have permission not to eat foods you don’t like,” Hartley wrote in his nationally syndicated blog. “Me? I don’t like the green bean casserole, so I don’t eat it.

Cullers came up with his strategy for choosing which foods to eat and which foods to ignore on Thanksgiving.

“Focus on what you don’t normally eat,” she said. “Food that is on the table is quite common and may not be that special” – mashed potatoes or corn or salad are examples – “don’t eat them. If it’s something like your mom’s homemade chicken and noodles, or a special kind of stuffing you get just once a year – foods that are really special and you only get on Thanksgiving – put these (foods) on your plate … so you can really enjoy them.

“We remember our family members so often by what they do, and having those memories is really important,” Cullers continued, “so don’t deny yourself these special memories of what your mom brings to Thanksgiving, or your aunt… because these are the things you will remember once they are gone.

However, common sense should always be applied at a big dinner party, whether one is intentionally counting calories or not.

“Your typical sides – the mashed potatoes and gravy, the stuffing, the hot rolls – they’re not inherently bad for us, it’s just the amount” in which they’re eaten, Kitchell said.

Keeping small portions on the plate is a good practice to follow. Try to limit yourself to one plate of food, with no second serving. Drinking water or tea with dinner, rather than wine or eggnog, helps keep your appetite suppressed while you eat. Limit fried foods, as well as butter, cheese, and cream. Instead of making a casserole of green beans, perhaps go for a healthier alternative – green beans steamed with lemons and sprinkled with almonds. And if you really want to avoid some of the more fatty foods on the table, just say no to a casserole serving of sweet potatoes or an oversized slice of pecan pie.

“Just eat in moderation,” Kitchell said.

But that shouldn’t apply to everyone, she added. For example, people who have medical conditions that require a modified diet – people with diabetes or with kidney or heart disease or gastrointestinal issues – a meal could make a difference in their health, Kitchell said. To this end, they follow modified diets and need to watch what they eat, especially side dishes, where fat can accumulate quickly.

“For people who need special diets, take one or two of (your) favorite foods on vacation that may be high in salt or sugar and enjoy them in small portions,” she said. “And then supplement your meals with some of these other options that are lower in sodium, fat, sugar, and starch.”

Kevin McClintock is editor-in-chief of The Joplin Globe.

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