Tips on Staying Healthy on Thanksgiving: Quality Over Quantity


Hae Lee

Image by Andrea Rodriguez

Thanksgiving holiday comes to the rescue, as students tired of dorm food long for warm, home-cooked meals around this time of the year. There are only a few days left until it’s time to go “home sweet home.”

Students have a four-day weekend to spend quality time with their family and friends at home, eating food that they have dreamed about for the past two months. Traditionally, this holiday is all about abundance and overfilling on stuffing, turkey with cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows on top and, lastly, fresh pumpkin and pecan pie that fill the whole house with the scent of fall.

With all these choices on the dinner table, it is easy to over-consume and fall into a “food coma” at the end of the night. According to the American Council on Exercise, the average Thanksgiving dinner contains about 3,000 calories, which is how much a person usually consumes in one or two full days.

 “Thanksgiving food is absolutely my favorite, but every year I regret overeating at the end of the night, and the food coma is unavoidable,” said Ashley Cates, a first-year communication major. “On top of that, I feel gross the next morning.”

Furthermore, the leftovers from the night are unlikely to be trashed, since a festive Thanksgiving dinner usually takes hours of planning, preparation and stress. This means the refrigerator will be stocked for days—a dangerous temptation for students who want to avoid overindulging in order to stay fit during the long weekend.

However, it is possible to keep healthy this Thanksgiving.

If it’s not already an annual routine to help around the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, forming that habit can make cooking this year actually beneficial, healthy and fun, all at the same time.

By cooking, you will know exactly what ingredient is in each dish and will have no problem choosing the ingredient with fewer carbohydrates, sugar, sodium and calories at the dinner table.

“I love to cook and spend time with my family, so helping my mom on Thanksgiving is more than I can ask for,” said Danielle Fogel, a second-year communication major. “Taking a trip to the grocery store, preparing the turkey, cleaning and setting up the table keep me active during the day.”

Removing the buttered skin of the turkey will eliminate the extra fat and calories. Health-conscious individuals can also go light on the sauce and gravy, which is loaded with about 600 calories of artificial sugar and sodium per cup. Vegetable sides are an alternative to bread sticks with cheese, butter and cream toppings.

“I always ask my mom to make fruity dessert rather than pastries for the sake of my health, but she doesn’t always listen to me since I have younger siblings that love layered cake and choose dessert that tastes sweeter or looks more appetizing,” said Shaina Goel, a first-year history major. “But I figured, if I am in the kitchen keeping my mom company, she has no other choice but to listen to my preferences over my siblings’.”

Drinking a lot of water during dinner also prevents overeating, since the calorie-free water tricks the brain into feeling full. In addition, talking between bites helps the body digest and slows down the eating process. Going for a walk after dinner is also a great way to bond and catch up with your family while burning calories.

Be wise this holiday, Gauchos. See y’all on Monday with no regrets!