Keeping The Turkey Day Calories At Bay

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- We're covering East Tennessee Health, providing you with a little bit of damage control prior to your Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving is the official start to the holiday season, and the unofficial start to the holiday weight gain season.

The average American will gain seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

Thanksgiving is so closely associated with eating, some people call it turkey day, but turkey isn't the problem, it's everything that comes with it!

The average Thanksgiving dinner has more than 2,500 which for most of us is more than a full day's worth.

"2,500 calories may even be a low estimate by the time you start with appetizers, go through the dessert and go through the evening turkey sandwiches with dressing," said Susan Higdon, a registered dietitian and nutritionist.

Higdon says you can cut that number down dramatically, without cutting out your favorite holiday foods.

Her solution is to design the perfect plate and divide it into thirds.

Ideally, the first third is white meat turkey and the second third should be low-fat vegetables.

"Then pick the vegetables maybe that aren't in casserole form, such as green beans or a steamed broccoli,” said Higdon.

Finally, the last third is where you get to indulge a little, with starches such as sweet potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

The biggest diet pitfall on Thanksgiving is overindulging.

Even if you take only one serving of everything that's being offered, you're guaranteed to overeat.

So keep it to one perfect plate and don't go back for seconds.

"The biggest problem may be that you get used to that kind of a meal, that kind of a portion and then it's a little more difficult to revert back,” she said.

Remember it's a holiday, not a “Holiweek” and there are six of them between now and New Year's Day.

Starting tomorrow, the choices you make will mean the difference in losing one or two pounds or eleven or twelve after you ring in the New Year.

Don't forget hidden calories in things like appetizers and alcohol, those add up too.

Also try to fit in a walk and encourage others to join you.

It could become a healthy, new family tradition.

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