Why We Shouldn't Feel Guilty About Eating What We Want on Thanksgiving

thanksgivingWe've all heard the stat that the average eats on Thanksgiving Day alone will cost us roughly 4,500 calories. That's what the Calorie Control Council claims, at least, and I've definitely heard that number tossed around by various sources -- diet programs, fitness buffs, etc. -- fearmongering about the holiday's evil ability to obliterate even the most diligent dieter's game plan.

So had Tara Parker-Pope at The New York Times, but she was skeptical. Therefore, she decided to create the most indulgent Thanksgiving meal she could dream up ... only to find that turkey, sausage stuffing, a buttered dinner roll, sweet-potato casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy and butter, greens and cranberry sauce, plus pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and whipped cream came to about 2,486 calories. Innnnteresting! But all right, for argument's sake, say that when you add in all the other little bites and second servings, etc., we did get up to 4,500 on Thanksgiving Day? So what?


First of all, sure, 4,500 calories for one day is high for just about anyone, but we'd all handle it differently. Some people scarf their faces off at Thanksgiving and then go out and burn half of their meal off by tossing a football around.

What's more, this scare tactic idea that 4,500 calories or Parker-Pope's 2,486 or whatever number you consume on Thanksgiving is somehow going to "break the bank" is ridiculous. That one day, one meal, one weekend is going to undermine otherwise healthy eating habits and send the average Joe or Jane packing to The Biggest Loser -- when that is so not so! The real problem is when we use the Thanksgiving meal as a kick-off to several weeks of over-the-top eating and not holding ourselves accountable for midnight forkfuls of pumpkin pie cheesecake.

But on a day we're supposed to be grateful for abundance and focused on family -- not on calorie-counting -- it's a complete shame to feel fearful of over-indulging. But being conscientious throughout the holiday season? Well, that's a whole different story.

Are you freaked out about how many calories you might eat on Thanksgiving? Or do you try not to worry about it?


Image via David Goehring/Flickr

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