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The annual Thanksgiving dinner

Linda Stultz
Certified Fitness Trainer

(11/2016) Each year I have a request to reprint my Thanksgiving article and each year I add the new information Iíve learned. I hope this yearís Thanksgiving article will give you a new idea to add to your holiday tradition.

The menu for this meal usually remains about the same from year to year. Of course, turkey is the main attraction. Make sure you get a lean turkey that is low in fat. Most of the fat in poultry is in the skin. You need the skin while roasting for a juicy, tender bird, but before you slice it, remove the skin. That will take the temptation away from those folks who tend to tear off a piece when they slip into the kitchen to see how things are going. A way to add a little more spice to the bird is to loosen the skin and inject your favorite seasonings or herbs. You can also add a little low fat butter for extra flavor.

Dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, warm bread and dessert are also part of the traditional meal. Iím not saying donít have these favorites; just alter the way they are prepared. Use fat free milk and low fat butter in your mashed potatoes. Even better, try mashed sweet potatoes or mashed cauliflower. Try whole grain bread for the dressing. Whole grains are much healthier than processed white bread and supply added fiber. You can also sprinkle flaxseed meal or wheat germ to add a bit of nutty flavor and nobody will be the wiser. Gravy is one of the most important parts of this meal. Let your broth set for a while till it forms a solid skim on top. Remove this and you will have broth with much less fat. The gravy still tastes the same, without the fat. Gravy can even be made a day or two early to save you time on the big day. The warm bread can be a variety of different whole grain buns. This way, everybody gets their favorite kind such as wheat, rye, pumpernickel and now even whole grain white. Add a veggie tray with low fat dip. Cooked seasoned veggies such as squash, carrots and cauliflower are also a great combination if you prefer hot vegetables. One half of your plate should be filled with veggies. Raw vegetables give you the most nutritional value. Have them on the table or the kitchen counter for your family and guests to nibble while the main meal is being prepared. They will fill up on these and maybe not eat as much later. Supply a variety of vegetables to pick from. Hopefully, you will have at least one kind that the kids like.

Dessert! Some people live for the Thanksgiving Dessert Table. Thatís OK. Give yourself a treat. Just look over everything carefully, and decide what you really want. Maybe even sample a few different kinds. Try cutting the slices in half. That way you can try a bigger variety. Watch out for the pumpkin pie, you know who you are! Preparing a small plate of dessert for your guests to take home is also a thoughtful way to let them sample everything, just not all at one time. They can take a little piece of Thanksgiving home to remember for the rest of the holiday weekend. This way you do not have all of that dessert leftover and tempting you. Your waistline will thank you later. Check into some small changes in the recipe that will make a big difference in the fat and sugar content of the dessert. Pumpkin is a great way to add that creamy texture to your pies, cakes and cookies, while lowering the fat and raising the protein. Flaxseed meal can also be added to pies and cakes to give your family that added health benefit without them even knowing it is there. Applesauce in place of oil is another helpful, healthy hint. SUGAR is a big ingredient that packs on the pounds. Add a little less sugar to your recipes and you may just discover you didnít need all that the recipe called for anyway. Check out your grocery storeís healthy cooking isle for alternatives to sugar. Remember, fresh seasonal fruit also makes a great dessert. Fruit has natural sugar but has much less calories than desserts made with sugar.

Finally, start a new Thanksgiving Tradition. I know people like to watch the football games on Thanksgiving Day but maybe you can talk them into playing a little tag football themselves. Taking a walk after your meal is a great idea. I know how everybody feels after eating a big meal, all the more reason to get moving. Take the whole family for a walk in the brisk, fall air. Share this time and walk off some of those extra pounds you just consumed. If you canít get the whole family involved, pick a friend or family member that you would like to spend a little extra time with. Share conversation, ideas and just time with them. Maybe after all day together preparing the big Thanksgiving feast you may want to escape by yourself for a nice, quiet, peaceful walk of your own. If you canít get outside for a walk use the treadmill or an exercise tape. Donít have a machine or tape, turn on the music and just dance. You will have fun and bring the family together. These tips are not just for Thanksgiving. They work well for Christmas or any holiday gathering.

Think about giving the gift of health this year. Gift certificates to an exercise program may get a person into a lifetime of health. Get yourself and someone you love into exercising. That is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. Call me to explore the benefits of an exercise program designed just for you. 717-334-6009

Enjoy your holiday meal but maybe you could take smaller portions this year and you will feel better. One of my clients always tells me that she took smaller portions at a family event and while others were saying how full they were, she felt just fine and was pleased with herself because she made a conscience choice to eat less.

I know this is a repeat of an earlier article but hopefully it will remind you or give you an idea that you didnít get from the first time you read this.

The most important thing is to "KEEP MOVING", youíll be glad you did.

If you have any questions or need help getting started, please call me 717-334-6009, or via e-mail at

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