Healthier options could cut Thanksgiving calories


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist David Gardner

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on November 21, 2012 at 7:26 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 26 at 11:52 AM

AUSTIN -- For many the traditional Thanksgiving meal poses a dilemma -- eat what you want or eat sensibly. Many of us may find it hard to turn our backs on the traditional turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and  -- did we mention -- dessert. Health experts tell us there are options out there that are still pretty tasty without all the calories.

As customers stocked up on some last-minute Thanksgiving items at the Crestview Minimax it was clear for some -- eating healthy -- wasn't on the shopping list.

"I try to do it throughout the year," said Gary Anaya, an Austin resident. "But during the holidays I think everybody cheats a little bit. You try to stay healthy, but you know it's very, very hard and tempting.  What do you do?"

Health experts say there are ways to survive the caloric onslaught. Try a low-salt ham or even fish as the main source of protein.  

"If you are going to have the turkey -- turkey is a great source of protein -- I would do the white meat and take away that skin and limit the dark meat," said Laura DeStafeno, a Registered Dietician at St. David's South. "Any time you see fat on meat always, cut it away because it's saturated fat."

DeStafeno says the average person will consume about 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving. She says a third of that comes from liquids such as eggnog, alcohol or sugared sodas.

"Most of the time people drink about a thousand calories at Thanksgiving," she said.  

DeStafeno says someone truly interested in eating healthier should divide their plate into three sections.

"Half of your plate being non starchy vegetables," she said. "A quarter of you plate -- of that circle -- should be some sort of carb choice. Then a quarter being some sort of lean protein."

DeStafeno says she doesn't like to tell someone they can never eat a certain food, but she does strongly suggest moderation. It's a lesson 84-year-old Helen Scheer says she learned a long time ago.

"It helps you not to gain weight, and it's good for your body," said Scheer, an Austin resident. "It's healthy, so I eat a little at a time, and I take some home and I eat some more the next day."

As for desserts, DeStafano says pies and cakes that are sugar free can make a significant difference, but she says to be sure to follow the directions or their taste may make you a little less thankful.