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Students encouraged not to overindulge at Thanksgiving meal

Nov. 20, 1997

By Bridget O'Farrell

Reporter for The Baylor Lariat

When the pilgrims and Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Mass., they were thankful for the food they had to eat. They gave no thought to the amount of calories they were consuming or whether or not they should have a second helping of turkey and pumpkin pie. Today, Thanksgiving is looked upon as time to be thankful, but also a time when the calories tend to add up.

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is the single most important dinner of the year. Thanksgiving is a time for family reunions, all-day football, food, food and more food. Unfortunately, the typical foods associated with the holiday can lead to weight gain. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatos, gravy, sweet potato casserole, pecan pie and pumpkin pie may taste great, but can add on the pounds. The average person gains five pounds during the holiday season. That extra five pounds means an individual has consumed more than 17,000 too many calories.

According to Janelle Walter, an associate professor of family and consumer sciences, there are ways to handle the holiday food intake.

'For college students, Thanksgiving break will be the first few days of decent eating they will have had, which tempts them to overeat,' Walters said.

Walters suggests Thanksgiving not be approached as a chance to catch up on home cooking, or to overindulge. Individuals should not skip meals in anticipation of Thanksgiving dinner and meals should be eaten on time.

'Eat a lot of vegetables and fill up on those,' Walters said. 'Also, watch out how much butter you use on your rolls. One tablespoon of butter or margarine contains 100 calories. Desserts also tend to get people in the most trouble.'

Many students voiced their concern about the calories and pounds associated with Thanksgiving. The typical American Thanksgiving dinner contains more than 2,000 calories, according to physicians of the Geisinger Health System.

'I think it's worth watching what you eat at Thanksgiving if you're concerned about your weight,' Robert Casey, a Dayton freshman, said. 'Prevent yourself from gaining weight by not eating as much. People should also exercise after the meal instead of sleeping.'

Other students plan to enjoy all aspects of Thanksgiving, regardless of the calories they may consume in the process.

'Thanksgiving should be for fun,' Hillary Bertheau, a Lake Jackson senior, said. 'It's a time when our family gathers from all across the country to celebrate the holiday and go over stories. How much weight I gain from Thanksgiving is far from my mind. It's the holidays; you might as well enjoy it. You have the rest of the year to worry about what you eat.'

While the traditions and foods associated with Thanksgiving may bring a smile to the face, a glance at the scale after the holiday may soon change the smile to a frown.

The Long Beach Community Medical Center suggests ways to enjoy Thanksgiving, but keep some of the weight off. They suggest that you eat for hunger, plan what goes on the plate, stop when full and walk it off later.

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