Some guys may consume as many as 4,500 calories at Thanksgiving dinner. That’s double Health Canada’s recommended daily caloric intake for adult males!
No wonder some men suffer from bloating, heartburn, and other digestive discomforts on Turkey Day, and no wonder it’s such a challenge to eat responsibly when low-fat poultry meat is paired with fatty gravy, buttery mashed potatoes, carb-heavy stuffing, and sugary cranberry sauce. Then comes the pumpkin pie (a la mode), and the pecan pie (a la mode), and those marshmallow squares your aunt always brings, and before you know it, you’re in a self-induced Thanksgiving coma.
The good news: Turkey Day comes but once a year, and nobody here is going to tell you not to indulge in a day of feasting. What we will say, however, is that there are a couple easy tricks that can help you achieve that pant-loosening, eyelid-drooping, ‘full’ feeling, without going overboard on the brown sugar yams and stuffing.
- Eat a healthy, light breakfast.
Start Thanksgiving Day with a bran-based breakfast cereal. This stuff helps maintain energy levels, promotes relaxation, and is good for your heart and blood vessels. Plus, all that fibre will help with digestion later in the day.
- Snack throughout the day.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but noshing on snacks after breakfast and lunch will help prevent a dietary meltdown at dinner. Munching on a handful of berries, popcorn, pistachio nuts, carrot sticks, or whole-wheat crackers are great options.
- Don’t change much.
You can decrease the calorie and fat intake with just a few small changes. Eat more white than dark turkey meat, load up on vegetables, and go easy on the gravy, bread, potatoes, and cheesy casseroles. If your aunt insists that you try every dessert, do half portions of each, and wait at least 10 minutes before going back for seconds to let the first plateful hit bottom.
And remember, as much as Thanksgiving is about the food, it’s also about practicing gratitude. Take a moment to appreciate the spread across your table, as well as those sitting around you. While the meal itself may not be low in calories, the holiday is certainly good for the heart.
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. He’s been covering men’s health for over 20 years. As well as researching and blogging for Don’t Change Much since 2015, Adam’s award-winning work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and National Post newspapers.