Surviving Thanksgiving and Holiday Parties ~Part One

We interrupt our normal art programming with some special articles on food, stress and heathly living through the holidays.

by cococello

Holiday Cookies Photo by cococello

Thanksgiving and the holiday eating season is upon us and personally I don’t want to be ‘thankful’ for extra pounds afterwards. So I have been collecting tips to avoid excess eating and weight gain. I fully intend to enter the January “resolution” season with a total pounds lost, not gained scenario. I realize that all the pounds I have gained over the holidays of past years continue to haunt me.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, most Americans can expect to gain at least one pound during the winter holiday season. One pound of weight gain doesnโ€™t sound all that bad; the problem is that most Americans never lose that one pound. As a result, we gain 10 pounds every decade of our adult lives, and that contributes to obesity in later life. (Check out for more holiday eating tips)

First some tips for before the event, dinner or party.

Usually, I would avoid eating any breakfast or lunch prior to the annual thanksgiving feast. The theory being that I was saving my calories so that I could splurge at the meal. I have since come to find out that this is actually not a good plan. Think about it, what happens if you go to the grocery store when you are hungry? Personally, I will deviate from my list, get more food than I need and make unhealthy choices, simply because I am hungry and everything LOOKS good. Healthcastle agrees that going to a thanksgiving or holiday meal hungry will only cause you to overeat and make bad food choices.

Don’t go to the Thanksgiving dinner hungry: we often eat faster and more when we are hungry – therefore eat a wholesome breakfast and lunch on the day to avoid overeating at dinner time. HealthCastle is the largest online nutritional database run by registered dietitions.


In addition to eating in a normal healthy way, prior to festive meals, you should also exercise in your normal healthy way. This is completely new to me… since exercising with any consistency is fairly new for me. Most health sites and resources these days will tell you 30-60 minutes of exercise per day is required to avoid holiday weight gain. But moving even just a little bit can get you into a positive movement cycle. I plan to continue my weekly 3-5 days of exercise throughout the holiday season.

One great thing about the holidays is we often have vacation time away from work and could have more time for movement. Although family events and trips might be part of those days off, if you plan activities that center around movement you can keep your fitness built into your day. Winter sports such as sledding, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and even just crisp winter walks can be a fun fitness treat when done with friends and family. I look forward to some jogs around Greenlake with my nieces, walks to the dog park with fellow dog lovers and even some ice skating.


Know what will be served at the meal and think about what you will eat. If you are hosting, make low calorie healthy versions of old favorites. Try this low-cal Pumpkin Pie and compare to the evil cheesecake version of almost 500 calories! Look for calorie cutting substitutions for regular recipes. Or if you are going to a meal, offer to bring healthy alternatives, like salads, low calorie or even sugar free desserts.

Know your serving sizes! has some great visuals to help you recognize a healthy portion size. Usually, we are eating 2 or even 3 portions without even realizing it, especially if you are eating at a restaurant. Using inanimate objects as a size reference is one way to keep realistic with regards to portion sizes.

  • A serving of cereal is not whatever fits in your cereal bowl-1 ounce of cereal (1 serving) is the size of a tennis ball.
  • A computer mouse or deck of cards is the size of a medium 5-ounce (150 g) potato that’s equivalent to 2 carbs and a small bar of soap is the size of a 3 to 4 (90 to 120 g) ounce serving of chicken, fish, or meat.
  • If your meal plan calls for 1 ounce of cheese, that’s the size of four dice.
  • If you’re eating spaghetti, 1 serving (1/2 cup or 1 carb) portion would be about 32 strands.
  • A hockey puck is about the size of a 3-ounce (90 g) bagel (1 serving or 1 carbohydrate).

Plan to have those foods that you only get this time of year. If you love your Aunt’s special sausage stuffing and she holds the recipe top secret, plan to enjoy and savor a healthy serving of it. But forgo the chips and dip, since you can have that anytime of the year.

Lastly, don’t forget WATER! Drink it, lots of it. It will keep you feeling full and help your body flush out the salt and toxins ingested during your holiday meal.

Next, tips for DURING the holiday meals and parties.

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