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Old 11-13-2004, 06:51 AM   #1  
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Default What's YOUR Thanksgiving And Party Strategy?

Let's all talk about our Thanksgiving plans. For me, if I mentally walk through the day and anticipate the challenges, I can make a plan to deal with the potential pitfalls.

Thanksgiving will be at my parents' house this year and I'm in charge of baking the pies (pumpkin, pecan, and apple). So that's challenge #1 - baking without nibbling. My plan is to bake the pies the day before, right after I've eaten a meal.

Challenge #2 - too much alcohol. Plan - none for me, otherwise, I lose my willpower over food. I'm not a big drinker anyway, so it's not a big deal.

Challenge #3 - appetizers and munchies. Plan - take veggie tray. Sit far away from the bad stuff. Don't go hungry!

Challenge #4 - too much fattening food. Plan - make sure I eat earlier in the day so that I'm not starving. Eat LOTS of turkey and veggies. I'm not one who does well with small portions (then I want more) so I'm better off avoiding the bad stuff entirely.

Challenge #5 - dessert. The toughest challenge. Here's what's worked for me in the past - telling DH that I'm not having dessert and that I need his help. All he has to do is LOOK at me across the table and say 'do you really want that?' and then I'm OK.

Of course, some people do just fine with Thanksgiving as a free meal or with taking small portions of everything! I know myself and have learned that a free meal knocks me off-track for days, so isn't worth it for me personally. All our strategies are going to be different since we all face our own unique challenges.

Anyone else want to share?
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Old 11-13-2004, 07:11 AM   #2  
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I have a fabulous pumpkin pie recipe I will post--uses silken tofu instead of high fat evaporated milk. This reminds me I was also going to post my "modified" carrot cake and cheesecake recipes.

My strategy this year: we are going to Montreal. No temptation, no family conflict, no stress. My family lives far away, my in-laws are closer but if they go to my brother-in-law's place, that never seems to work very well for us.

My cold is still lingering so I have only exercised once this week. Oh well, it happens. I need the extra rest in order to recover.

Take care.
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Old 11-13-2004, 08:11 AM   #3  
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My strategy is that I'm in control of the meal, and aside from my husband and kids, only my mother and step-father will be here. Due to a combination of food allergeis and being just plain nuts, their diets look even weirder than mine. They don't eat any processed foods, wheat or anythng containing corn syrup, or dairy for my step-father. So just putting together an edible meal may be a challenge!

We will be going heavy on fresh vegetables and salad. Homemade cranberry sauce is a must, and home made apple and pumpkin pies. I'll have a sliver of each, and maybe a spoonful of stuffing (that''s where I'll get into trouble if there's trouble to be had). Then my biggest temptation willbe to not eat all the turkey skin and dark meat. Mmmmmmm..... Love it!

I think it's going to be a mini-free meal for me. But I'm going to be doing so much housecleaning and getting ready, that it shouldn't set me back too much!

Oh- ONE glass of red wine! I will make sure Dh and Dd remove my glass and refill it with water! Dd is 22, she's be quite happy to have my second glass

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Old 11-13-2004, 08:40 AM   #4  
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a little different this year. i will be spending it have a GIRLS MOVIE DAY with one of my closest friends... and perhaps a diner for dinner... yipppEEEEEEEE
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Old 11-13-2004, 04:50 PM   #5  
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For us Thanksgiving is a nice comfy relaxed day at home. I generally bake just a turkey and veggies. We eat very few desserts, and I don't think I'll be buying or making any this year. It's never been a big day for me. I feel like a wet blanket here.

But for us it's a more personal holiday- I spend extra money on food to donate to the shelters for their meals and food baskets prior to the holiday, and then we enjoy a nice meal and eat turkey left-overs for a week or so. Hee,hee.

I do plan on making some small baked potatoes, and using some of that tub margarine without the trans fat. I also like bare naked cold baked potatoes as a snack.

I also plan to keep up on my fitness walking program this holiday season.

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Old 11-13-2004, 04:51 PM   #6  
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I have used this strategy successfully for the past few years at any meal involving roast turkey, Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. Its my favorite meal of the year and my goal is to enjoy the meal totally, but not overeat. I am not looking for a calorie deficit, just a draw.

The real prize of the meal for me is the turkey and trimmin's. So I totally, absolutely totally, avoid all appetizers. They just dull my hunger which I want to use on the bird. I will drink one glass of wine however.

For the meal, I have pre-selected the items I will eat. Its always the same. Turkey thigh meat without skin, mashed potatoes, stuffing (if its good bread stuffing), and gravy. One average serving of each. And maybe green salad if the greens are appealing and fresh. Then I absolutely slowly savor the entire plate of food. No bread, no butter, no cranberries, no veggies, no ravioli, no sweet potato, nothing else but the 'big 4'. I have come to really not like the feeling of being full (as opposed to satisfied), so seconds are out.

There is usually dessert, pumpkin pie. This I play by ear, but I wont eat it then no matter what. If it looks good and I want a piece, I will ask to take a piece home for later or the next day. I have been known to toss it in the trash on the way home but not always.

Not necessarily only at the holidays, one thing I dont like is a hostess pushing a dessert onto me when I dont want it. I have found saying, thank you, but I am full now, and asking to take a piece for later, then ditching it on the way home works. Some may find this offensive because of wasting food, but the hostess is satisfied that I want some of her delicacy, and I am satisfied because I didnt want to eat it in the first place. And it gets her off my back about eating the dessert. This only works reliably if you toss it along the way (in a trash bin) before you get home.

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Old 11-13-2004, 05:08 PM   #7  
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Default What is your party strategy?

Last night I went to a party for the girls. It was a last minute gathering for an out of town old friend. It was mostly appetizers at were good. If there is a meal following, I can avoid appetizers, but when they are the meal, its more difficult. I need to find a default eating strategy for this sort of circumstance. I'm going to be in another one tomorrow afternoon too.

I was aware I didnt want to eat too much, but I was vulnerable none the less and ate more than I would have liked. I did eat slowly, and allowed much time to pass between having the tidbits, but you know how it can go. Perhaps because I was aware from the beginning that I was in jeopardy of eating too much, it seemed worse than it was. I still want to develop a better party strategy so there is something for me to follow.

There was alcohol, I dont drink that much, and I dont want to give that up. I suppose I could limit myself to a half glass of wine.

I was very pleased that this morning the scale, which I expected to bite me in the posterior, did not. Up only a quarter pound. Big surprise esp since things were salty. And I was pleased to note I was physically hungry upon waking which does not happen if I have eaten too much the night before.

Anyone have any ideas?

Thanks, Jan
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Old 11-13-2004, 05:34 PM   #8  
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I always try to start the day with a decent breakfast and some exercise, lately a 5K Turkey Trot of some sort, to put things in perspective. This year it's just DH and I, so we'll stick with grilled chicken, plain green beans, salad, probably some stove top stuffing made with very little butter, and he'll eat jellied cranberry sauce straight from the can--ick. I will make some dessert out of canned pumpkin, ff sf vanilla yogurt, artificial sweetner and pumpkin pie spice--very nice.

For a more traditional Thanksgiving in my family, eating begins about noon with the appetizers, and ends about 4, with dessert following around 6 or 7. I usually try to stick with the veggie tray for an appetizer, mostly skinless turkey, big salad and veggie portions, and very small tastes of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Maybe a dinner roll if they are good--no butter. I will usually have a reasonably sized piece of pumpkin pie, a couple hours after dinner, with no whipped cream of any sort. I try to avoid nuts and cookies, since I don't know when to stop after I get started, and any alcohol tends to weaken my resolve.

The same basic strategy works at Christmas, except that it is harder to get the morning exercise with presents and family breakfast, and there are many many more cookies, both in variety and quantity. But that's another holiday.

I will also try to drag family out for a walk after dinner if the weather cooperates, usually a couple hours later when their 'misery' has passed. They feel better too.
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Old 11-13-2004, 07:11 PM   #9  
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What I do in a circumstance like that and it's not too last minute is eat a meal before leaving the house... then I am not hungry at all or nibble very little... Limiting myself to only a half glass of wine is not possible for me, I wine too much for that... I drink the whole glass or nothing at all......
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Old 11-14-2004, 06:48 AM   #10  
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If I go out for a meal I order the lightest thing on the menu, if its at a friends I normally wear tight clothes which means that I wont eat as much and then I only have a glass or so of wine. Watering it down with diet tonic water, soda or lemonade is always good. I also sometimes take fruit with me if I know there is going to be a really elaborate desert and have that instead. Take something unusual and enough so everyone can have a try.
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Old 11-14-2004, 10:02 AM   #11  
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Hey you guys - interesting eating strategies! (BTW since they're VERY closely related, I took the liberty of merging Meg's and Jansan's strategy threads).

My strategy? Well...a lot of it has to do with Jim's and my personal lifestyle. We live in a small apt, and don't entertain - I leave that to my SISTER, who lives within 'spittin' distance' down the block and LOVES to entertain, thank God. She knows I don't really cook either, so I'm generally relegated to bring something from Draeger's, like a pie or rolls or some fresh veggies or whatever. Our family holiday meals are always the same and unchangable - any time there's been an attempt to alter the menu, mutiny has been threatened.

Since I can't handle the two-day migraines that follow drinking, and I don't really have a taste for vino (to the disappointment of my dad, who LOVES a good wine - they DID move to Napa Valley after all - I'd rather have me a good WHINE!) alcohol is not really a problem for me. I allow myself a few appetizers, although sister generally doesn't set out anything more than nuts prior to T-Giving dinner. What has worked for me is taking one helping of dinner and eating it slowly. Generally, I don't have room for dessert -- maybe a bite or two of pie, but usually not. And as far as leftovers - we just take home a few, mostly stuff like white meat turkey.

Oh and YUP - my gym is open on Thanksgiving morning, and as always, this gal will be there

As far as parties go - we will probably go to a couple this season, not enough to really make a dent. I've pretty much stopped all holiday baking - I used to bake DOZENS of cookies and breads and stuff, but ultimately too many of them ended up down my esophagus, and no one NEEDS them. (I might make Jim a cranberry bread, but then again there's SO much of that stuff at our work anyway, it's not like he's going to be deprived!)

Bottom line - as the Megster said, it's really all about PLANNING! Enjoy the holidays but realize it's not ALL about eating.
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Old 11-14-2004, 11:04 PM   #12  
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Hubby's little sis is coming and the two of them love to prepare the big dinner together. Since they manage to use tons of butter on everything, I've decided to try two new recipes that are a bit healthier and include them on the menu. Then, I can take turkey, veggies and sample my own lighter dishes. I do better if I just skip the really fattening stuff. I can't just take a little.

As far as dessert goes, I'm going to make as many sneaky substitutions as I can when I make the pies. No one ever has any idea that they are eating less sugar, fat, calories, etc.

My plan is to begin and end the day with a walk around the neighborhood or get in a good workout at the gym.
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Old 11-14-2004, 11:21 PM   #13  
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Today I went to another gathering with only lots of appetizers served. My over-arching plan going in is to participate in the event, yet to not overeat. I want to eat the food served in the spirit in which it is intended, and enjoy it like everyone else, but to also stay within the bounds of moderation. I do not necessarily want to have a negative calorie day, but mainly not a plus one.

So I tried something new today. I decided to allow myself between 5 and 10 appetizers tidbits. (this was dinner) I did not know what this would look like on the plate, or how it would work in my head. I did think it might make me choose more carefully, and also give me a specific number rather than just choosing things that appealed and ending up with too much. I had a plan for a change.

It was kinda fun going down the line picking and choosing and avoiding. I felt as if I had a food credit account with only so much I could charge. I chose more carefully than usual. At the end of the line approaching the dessert section, I had chosen 6 small items on the 5 inch plate. There were 4 dessert types just ahead, and I promptly forgot my plan and wanted to take one of each..... Argh!. But like a fog suddenly clearing, I fortuitously saw the light and chose only one item, a lemon square. So that was 7 total items. I ate them slowly and with relish outdoors while overlooking the sunset over the pacific ocean. Very pretty evening here. I did go back for 3 pieces of lean rolled smoked salmon that was especially good. So in all that was my ten items, It was not too much, nor too little. It was a goldielocks amount - just right.

I am very pleased how well this strategy worked. I dont know if it will always work, but at least its a plan that prevents me from feeling deprived coupled with some form of structured moderation. Next time I will also be ready with a default dessert plan - just one small item, and only if it looks good.

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Old 11-15-2004, 07:22 AM   #14  
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Congrats on a great strategy! And what a good idea. I'll have to remember that one.

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Old 11-16-2004, 05:04 AM   #15  
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Default Maintaining Through The Holidays

I found an article in the Washington Post this morning about maintaining through the holidays. I think that we here have hit on the major ideas already , but thought it worth passing along:
Holiday Challenge 2004
The Demands of the Season Seem to Expand Yearly. That Doesn't Mean You Have To
By Sally Squires
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 16, 2004; Page HE01

It's that time of year again. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the holiday season is about to begin, punctuated by Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the grand finale, New Year's Eve.

With so many opportunities to celebrate -- plus the stress and joy of travel and family gatherings -- it's no surprise that a National Institutes of Health study found the holiday season often makes unwanted contributions to your weight.

How much weight you gain seems to depend on your starting point. The 2000 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and written by Jack Yanovski and colleagues at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, showed that people at a healthy weight put on just under a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

But it was a different story for those who were already overweight. (That's now two-thirds of adults; about half of those carrying too much weight are categorized as obese, according to the latest figures from the National Center for Health Statistics.)

The study found that the overweight and obese -- are you sitting down? Well, now get up -- add an average of five pounds during the holidays. What's more, the researchers discovered that this extra weight often isn't shed by spring. So it's five pounds this year, five more next. Do the math, and things get scary pretty fast.

With all that in mind, let the fourth annual Lean Plate Club Holiday Challenge begin.

The Holiday Challenge is not about dieting or trying to lose weight. This is a difficult time of year to make a vow to change your life and lose pounds.

The goal is simply to keep the bathroom scale stable through the holiday season, to make sure that what you weigh on Jan. 1 is no more than what you weigh today. If you can accomplish that, you'll have escaped unscathed from the part of the year most likely to add pounds to your frame. Beat the challenge, and you can decide whether to make more changes in your lifestyle and cut some weight in 2005.

As always, we'll be providing weekly tips and goals to help you stay the course. Look for charts, lists and other handy tools, which will be updated both in the Health section and at

Last year, Lean Plate Club member Amy Ginn, 30, a lawyer with the National Labor Relations Board, approached the holidays with some trepidation. Ginn had lost 12 pounds before Thanksgiving and worried that the holidays might bring them back.

"I did last year's Holiday Challenge and it helped a lot!" she wrote in an e-mail. "I really focused on the suggestions to be prepared for parties and events. I made lower-calorie, healthier dishes to take to any events that I attended. I limited my holiday baking (no kids to disappoint, so that helped). . . . The 12 pounds stayed gone and, beginning in January, I started a regular exercise routine, started counting calories, and lost another 24 pounds to put me solidly in a healthy weight range. Because I want to stay there, I'm looking forward to participating in this year's Holiday Challenge as well."

Before we get into the weekly routine it's important to prepare yourself, and your kitchen, for what lies ahead. So this week's goal is to get ready for the challenge. Here's what Lean Plate Club members -- and experts -- recommend.

Assemble your tool kit. During the challenge, you'll need to get yourself moving a little more and control what you eat. So gather up what you need to support that: Do you have comfortable walking shoes? Workout clothes? How about measuring cups and a kitchen scale? A player for listening to music or books while you walk, run or work out? And consider clearing a place to exercise in front of the TV. Or maybe dust off that exercise bike, rowing machine or other home equipment and make sure it's ready to use.

Check your starting weight -- or size. If you plan to maintain your weight, you'll obviously need to know your starting point. That means climbing on the bathroom scale, scary as it can be for some. Research from the National Weight Control Registry shows that those who track their weight are more likely to maintain it. There's a weight chart you can use to track your weight changes, provided on this page and also downloadable at

If you'd rather avoid dealing with the big numbers on the scale, measure your waistline and keep tabs on that throughout the holidays. Or you can even use a belt or a piece of clothing -- say, a skirt or pair of trousers -- to monitor your bodily changes (or lack thereof). If the clothing gets tighter, well, no need to spell out what that means.

Find your caloric balance. So far, scientists haven't discovered a way to circumvent the laws of thermodynamics. If you eat more calories than you burn, you'll gain weight. So, for the holiday season, you'll need to estimate how much is going in and how much is going out.

The first step is determining what calorie level is likely to keep your weight stable. (Another reason why you need to step on the bathroom scale.) The Dallas Dietetic Association offers a free online calorie calculator that applies to anyone age 19 or older at It will estimate how many calories you're likely to burn during a day, based on your weight, height, activity level and so on.

Or you can use this simple equation, drawn from "Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook" (Human Kinetics): Take your weight in pounds and multiply by 10. That equals your "baseline" calories. (For someone who weighs 150 pounds that would be 1,500 calories just for breathing, keeping your heart beating and other bodily basics.) Now add 20 to 40 percent more for the daily activities of a sedentary lifestyle, which the majority of us lead. That results in 1,800 to 2,100 calories per day, which is the average intake suggested for most adults.

Most people will need to keep their calorie intake toward the lower end of that range. But if you regularly log more than 7,000 steps daily -- or if you're in an active job that keeps you moving throughout the day -- then the higher end of the calorie scale may be fine. If you're really active in your daily job or your daily exercise rivals that of an Olympic contender, then you can add 40 to 80 percent more calories rather than 20 to 40 percent, depending on activity levels.

Track what you eat. Yes, it can be a chore, but it's the only way to be sure you're staying in caloric balance. You want to be able to enjoy some egg nog, don't you? You'll need to tally how much you've eaten during the day, or the week, to know how much holiday splurging you can do on potato latkes, bŻuche de Noel or other holiday treats.

So use the food form available at the holiday challenge Web site, or just use a notebook and pen to jot down what you eat and estimate the calories. You'll likely need to measure and weigh food, too, at least at the beginning, so get out those measuring spoons and cups now and put the kitchen scale out on the counter.

To determine how many calories are in that turkey sandwich or pecan pie, you'll need to get a source of calorie information. "The Doctor's Pocket Calorie, Fat and Carbohydrate Counter" (Family Health Publications; $6.99) is the one used by the University of Pennsylvania's Weight and Eating Disorders Program in Philadelphia.

There are some more high-tech ways to estimate calories, too. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a free database for looking up the caloric content of thousands of foods at You can use this tool online or download it for free to your computer or PDA.

Or you can use one of the growing number of electronic programs that track both calories in and calories out. Some, such as Nutridiary (, Fitday ( and (, are free.

Healthetech ( offers for free a downloadable two-week trial of its Balancelog weight management program. Ditto for Calorie King ( Dietpower ( also offers a free, two-week trial for your computer. There's nothing to stop you from going from one free trial to another to compare systems.

Take stock of your pantry. And while you're at it, your fridge. What's lurking there may undermine your efforts, so now's the time to eliminate needless temptations. Swap high-calorie, high-fat, sugary food for great-tasting but healthy stuff. So toss, share or give away the cookies, chips, candy and other foods you'd rather not see in a moment of weakness. Replace them with such alternatives as: Popcorn and pretzels for savory snacks. Soups for late-afternoon pick-me-ups or high-volume meals that will help you feel full with fewer calories. Hot cocoa and (skim milk) puddings are other good alternatives. Make your own trail mix with dried fruit, whole grain unsweetened cereal and slivered nuts. Stock up on baby carrots, celery and bell peppers -- great for dipping into hummus, salsa or other low-impact dips.

Plan now how to fit in more physical activity. Enlist a partner for walks or trips to the gym. Whoever doesn't show has to buy the next round of (skim) lattes. Get these on the calendar now, before the pace gets too hectic. Or plan a holiday event such as ice skating, caroling or chopping down a Christmas tree. Even stringing lights burns a few calories.

Want to know how many? Check out or Then record your calories burned on the same sheet that tracks what you eat. Or simply jot it on your daily planner or calendar.

The free, Web-based Interactive Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Index, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will store nearly three weeks of food records and activity logs. The more calories you burn, the more you can indulge.
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