8 tips for a "heart healthy" Thanksgiving
The American Heart Association says heart disease and stroke are the #1 and #4 killers in America.
Healthy eating can reduce risk factors, but is Thanksgiving really the time to start? The AHA offers 8 simple things you can do this Thanksgiving to be heart healthy.
1. Eat beforehand. As tempted as you may be to do the "I'm-gonna-save-all-my-calories-for-the-big-meal thing"| don't! By the time the meal comes around, you'll dive in, making unwise choices and likely overdoing it on high-calorie, high-fat items. Instead, have a smart breakfast (some oatmeal and fruit, maybe) and a light lunch. Then, you'll be less likely to attack the big meal like a hungry wildebeest.
2. Move it! Activity is key. Don't break your regimen on Thanksgiving, of all days. Try to get in a little something, like a walk around the neighborhood, playing with the kids, etc.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink a good amount of water all day long. Not only is it good for you, it'll keep you from snacking when you really just need some H2O. And go easy on non-water drinks, especially ones full of sugar and/or alcohol. You don't want to tack on a ton of extra calories with a big meal ahead of you!
4. Pitch in! Not only will your friends and family ooh and ah over your creation, but it also gives you a chance to get something a bit lower in calories on the table. If you know what's in it, you know how much of it you can have.
5. Choose wisely. It's really easy, once people start passing dishes around, to just take a scoop of everything. Don't! Take a moment when you first sit down. Assess the situation - there will be things you really want, things you kinda want, things you'd like to taste and things you know are safe to eat. Grab from the last group first while you still have lots of room on your plate (lean turkey breast, non-sauced veggies, etc.). Then take a moderate amount of your super-faves, followed by a taste or two of unfamiliar items.
6. Treat yourself! Don't spend all your time obsessing about calories. If the thought of sitting through a meal without having at least a small serving of stuffing or a little slice of pie is unbearable, eat it! Remember: It's a celebration...so celebrate...a little!
7. Leftover-mania! If you're hosting the get-together, stock up on disposable plastic containers that you don't care about getting back; try to hand out most of the food you don't trust yourself around and don't want to be stuck eating for a week. If you're visiting, see if you can snag some of that turkey, but don't let yourself get loaded up with heavy stuff and desserts!
8. "Fat" pants: A no-no. Choose something to wear that's comfortable and classy - don't go specifically looking through your closet for something with an elastic waistband.
To help people get a better idea of how many calories they will be consuming and how to burn them off, nutrition experts put together a list of the calorie counts of one serving of some of the most popular Thanksgiving foods, as well as household activities that could help work off at least some of the meal.
4 ounces of turkey (dark meat): 323 calories. What will burn this off? Rake leaves for 45 minutes.
1/2 cup of stuffing: 190 calories. To burn this off, carry Black Friday shopping bags around for 30 minutes.
1/4 cup of jellied cranberry sauce. Twenty-five minutes of mopping can help work this portion of the meal off.
A slice of pumpkin pie: 316 calories. Spend 80 minutes watering outdoor plants (if it's not too cold or wet) to say goodbye to the pie calories.
A dinner roll: 82 calories. Vacuuming for 30 minutes will burn off that many calories.
A cup of mashed potatoes: 162 calories. A 22-minute game of friendly football will burn off 158 of these calories.
Another common (and easier) guideline to follow is it takes about a mile of slow running or brisk walking to burn off 100 calories, Holt said.
Harper suggested a few simple ways to cut back the calorie count while still enjoying the meal.
"Slice your slice of pumpkin pie right down the middle and avoid the whipped cream on top," he said. "Instead of eating the dark turkey meat, go for the white meat. Opting for the white meat instead of dark will trim about 100 calories off."
For more information on ways to stay healthy and happy this holiday season, click here.
ABC News contributed to this story