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Ester Marsh: Enjoy Thanksgiving, but don’t stuff yourself

By popular demand, my column published before last Thanksgiving is back. Thanksgiving is only two and a half weeks away, with family and friends getting together and, of course, all kinds of great but high calorie foods!

The best part of Thanksgiving is getting together with family and friends. But while enjoying holiday gettogethers, all the amazing food selections can make it easy to eat too much. It took me a long time to figure out how to eat on Thanksgiving, but I think I have it pretty much under control. I don’t have to unbutton my pants any more or feel so miserable that I wish I hadn’t eaten eat all that food!

So here are some tips I use to avoid over-indulgence:

• Use a smaller plate; you can only fill it up so much.

• Wait at least 20 minutes before you go for seconds; it takes about that long for your brain to figure out that you are full.

• Watch the high calorie drinks; you might be doing well on the eating part but blowing your calories on drinks.

• Understand what you have to do to burn those calories off …

The December 2013 edition of Runners World had interesting information on how long you would have to run to burn off the calories eaten on a typical Thanksgiving day:

• A 4 oz. serving (size of a SmartPhone) of roast turkey light and dark meat would require 1.7 miles of running.

• ¾ cup mashed potatoes (size of a tennis ball) — 1.8 miles.

• ½ cup of homemade gravy (half a baseball) — .7 miles.

• ½ cup of sweet potato casserole (half a baseball) — 1.4 miles.

• 1 cup of green bean casserole with crispy onion topping (size of a baseball) — 1.4 miles.

• 1 oz. roll plus 1 tsp. of butter (computer mouse sized bun with thumb tip of butter) — 1.7 miles.

• 1/8 of a 9-inch pie — 4.1 miles.

That’s a total of 1,272 calories, which equals the amount burned off during 12.8 miles of running, based on a 150-lb. person at a 9-minute mile pace.

Before you get discouraged, be prepared and aware. I am not planning to run 12.8 miles (close to half a marathon). However, the Forum is hosting its annual Butterball 5K on Thanksgiving morning. Each year, this event is growing, and I love the atmosphere of doing something physical and particpating to help raise funds for a great cause. It won’t be burning that slice of apple pie, but it will be a great start to a wonderful day while using 300 to 500 calories! For more information or to register online go to www.theforumfitness.com and click on Butterball 5K. We also have flyers for this race and other races at the Hurley YMCA.

Other tips that help me when going to a Thanksgiving dinner:

Pick one dinner; too many people have two or sometimes even three “dinners” to go to. If it cannot be avoided, have appetizers at one place, dinner at another and dessert at the last place! Make sure you are not hungry when you go. Otherwisze, your eyes will be much bigger than your stomach, and that miserable feeling will follow soon from overeating.

Be aware of what goes in your mouth, mentally check the serving sizes. As the info from Runners World indicates, one cup of  sweet potato casserole contains the calories burned is 2.8 miles!

Eat slower and enjoy the taste; the food will still be there.

If you don’t go for the Butterball 5K that morning, go for a family walk that afternoon. If you want to run after eating, wait at least two to three hours so you have digested that wonderful food. All in all, be sensible but enjoy the delightful foods, and especially appreciate your family and friends.

The YMCA will be closed on Thanksgiving Day but reopens at 5 a.m. Friday.

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director for the JF Hurley Family YMCA.

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