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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Diet goes with turkey woes

Published: November 19, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

GRAPHIC BY Ariel Wittenberg/The Hoot

It is the most delicious and calorie-filled time of year with Thanksgiving, finals and winter break. When our families bring out our favorite pies, mashed potatoes and sauces, the willpower to maintain our diet goes out the window. We often overload on calories, setting the tone for a downward stuffing-our-faces spiral throughout the winter. Personally, I would love to catch one of the obnoxious turkeys on campus and … well you get the idea. Thanksgiving is hard on the diet. According to the American Council on Exercise, the average total caloric intake for Thanksgiving Day for a 160 pound person, is 4,500 calories due to the continuous snacking in addition to the main meal. There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. Yikes, time for TUMS. Can we deviate from our gluttonous indulgences this Thanksgiving? We can certainly try; here are some eating tips for our attempts.

1. Skip or just eat half of the turkey skin, by eating just the meat you eliminate the main fat component of turkey.

2. Fun fact: 3.5 ounces of turkey breast without skin is 161 calories with four grams of fat while the same quantity of only turkey skin is 482 calories and 44 grams of fat (according to the University of Illinois).

3. Make your own cranberry sauce and use half the sugar or, otherwise, substitute in other fruits instead of the amount of sugar required in the recipe.

4. Use chicken broth instead of butter and milk in the mashed potatoes (kosher friendly for a turkey meat meal) or opt for a baked potato (or sweet potato, which has more antioxidants) instead.

5. Try having whole grain with extra fiber or fat-free bread instead of white bread rolls.

6. Have the pumpkin pie instead of the pecan pie. Pumpkin filling is lower in fat and calories than pecans and also is a good source of Vitamin A, calcium and iron.

7. Remember that portion control is everything.

In terms of exercising, having a pre- and post-Thanksgiving workout can help with the blow of all those calories. One tradition I like to do with my family is to take a walk around the neighborhood between dinner and dessert or play wiffle ball outside. It helps break up the meal, digest the course and adds a little exercise into a day of eating. Another thing you could do is make deals or bets with your cousins, like push-up contests, sprinting contests, or a Wii tennis competition to add family participation to exercise.

Whether you try one of these tips or all of them, my favorite health aspect of Thanksgiving is the idea of mental health and being happy while with my family and friends. So enjoy your Thanksgiving breaks, eat in moderation, catch a Brandeis turkey, spend time with your family and rest up for finals when we get back.

Psst … FLU SHOT. As always, tune in next week for more health tips and send me an e-mail at with any health-related questions you may have.