How to Have Your Thanksgiving Pie and Eat It Too!

pumpkin pie with a piece cut out of it

"An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day." —Irv Kupcinet
Questions or comments, contact author, Alice Henneman at ahenneman1@unl.edu

The typical American may eat 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day with 3,000 calories consumed at the Thanksgiving meal alone. That’s more than two times the average recommended calorie load for a day!

So many times, at Thanksgiving we see lists of tips on how to lighten up Thanksgiving foods. But, part of what many of us are thankful for is that traditional turkey and gravy, those homemade mashed potatoes, the stuffing and of course ... the pie!

But ... with a little planning, you don’t have to feel guilty about that piece of pumpkin or pecan pie whether serving a Thanksgiving meal or eating out. Try these tips:

  1. Downsize your plate size. Use smaller plates when possible for the meal and the pie. Your portions will automatically become smaller. Yet, they will still fill the plate, giving the impression of a larger and still satisfying meal. 
     
  2. Browse the buffet. Check out all the food before loading up on lesser-liked items.
     
  3. Divide and conquer. Start out with half the food you want the first time it is passed, or when you serve yourself from a buffet. This also will force you to eat slower and give your stomach time to begin feeling full before you fill your plate with more food.  
     
  4. Include low calorie choices. Serve a relish plate with some fresh veggies so there are some lower calorie choices or select these from a Thanksgiving buffet. If you’re bringing a dish, bring a relish plate.
     
  5. Serve some foods separately. Rather than heaping the whipped cream on the pie for guests or mixing in the salad dressing, pass these higher calorie items and let people serve themselves. Also, include a lower calorie salad dressing choice.
     
  6. Make your first bites of pie your best bites. According to psychologists, your first bites of food taste best. If you slow down when eating dessert, you’ll enjoy the taste more and can be satisfied with a smaller amount. Swallow each mouthful before taking the next bite! Ask for a half serving of pie … say it really looks delicious but you're too full to enjoy a whole piece. You might even ask if you could take the other half home, so you can enjoy it tomorrow.
     
  7. Provide take-home containers for guests. Send extra food, or food people feel too full to eat that day, home with guests. Buy some inexpensive plastic containers or other take-home boxes. Avoid letting food sit out after a meal.  Perishable food shouldn't be left at room temperature more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F.
     
  8. Hit the “Pause” button on eating after Thanksgiving Day. The average person may gain a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. That doesn’t sound so bad; however, people don’t tend lose all this weight and it adds up over the years. Return to your normal way of eating after Thanksgiving. Limit the number of times you load up on food during the holidays! 

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