Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Low-Calorie Thanksgiving?

I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family this year. We all could stand to lose some weight so I would like to prepare a meal that isn't too high in calories. Do you have any suggestions for an appealing menu that isn't over-the-top in fat and calories?

Answer (Published 11/24/2006)

The holidays can be a treacherous time for anyone with weight concerns. Fortunately, the idea that Americans put on between five and 10 pounds over the holiday season is more myth than reality. A National Institutes of Health study published in 2000 showed that the average holiday weight gain is just over one pound. What's more, the researchers found that the two factors that most influence weight gain during the holidays are hunger and physical exercise. Not surprisingly, study participants who reported being the least hungry and getting the most physical exercise were least likely to gain weight.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

With that in mind, I would suggest that your Thanksgiving agenda include some time set aside for exercise. Get your family out for a brisk walk or some outdoor activity that you all enjoy - the more vigorous, the better.

When you're planning your menus, emphasize foods that are low in sugar, flour and calories. You can find some delicious side dishes in The Healthy Kitchen or my latest book True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure.

Don't skimp on other meals during the day. Have a healthy, satisfying breakfast and nibble on low-calorie fruits or vegetables early in the day. For appetizers, serve raw vegetables with vinaigrette made with olive oil for dipping. Eliminate bread and rolls from holiday dinners (will anyone really miss bread with all that other good food to eat?), and then you probably won't need to put butter on the table.

When you sit down to dinner, don't serve big portions. Remind your family beforehand that the white meat of the turkey is lowest in calories, and suggest that the weight-conscious among you limit the amount of gravy used (put it on the side rather than pouring it all over the turkey, stuffing and potatoes). Go ahead and have some pumpkin pie for dessert, but serve smaller portions than you normally would and avoid added whipped cream or ice cream.

If you're worried about the temptation of having lots of leftovers on hand, find out if you can donate them to a homeless shelter or local soup kitchen. Or give all your dinner guests doggy bags to take home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here