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Eat smart, don't gobble: how to feast festively and sensibly on Turkey Day.

Turkey and gravy, sweet potato souffle, cornbread stuffing, and pumpkin pie! The tasty temptations of Thanksgiving meal are enough to make even sensible diners gorge to a sickly state. Experts say the average American consumes between 3,000 and 6,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day. (For comparison, it is recommended that a 150-pound person eat no more than 2,000 calories a day!)

And while one big meal may not dash your otherwise-healthy eating habits, nutritionists caution against continuous feasting throughout the holiday season. The time between Thanksgiving and New Years is the biggest weight-gain period for teens.

The good news is you can carve out a healthy meal and take part in the holiday festivities at the same time. Here are some tips from Barry Popkin, head of the University of North Carolina's Interdisciplinary Obesity Center, on how to assemble a Thanksgiving plate that's both tasty and healthy. Use them throughout the holidays for a fitter kickoff to the New Year!

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Pie

Popkin recommends enjoying Thanksgiving pie plain, without whipped cream or ice cream. If you have a choice, go for pumpkin pie over pecan or apple pie. You can save more than 100 calories. Portion size: 1 slice, 316 calories

Stuffing

Keep your portion size of stuffing small, and if you have the option, choose regular or whole-wheat bread stuffing over cornbread, Portion size: 1/2 cup, 177 calories

Gravy

Drizzle gravy on your plate with a tablespoon instead of pouring it from a gravy boat. Without even realizing it, you can pour as much as a half cup of gravy from a gravy boat--8 times the recommended amount! Portion size: 1 to 2 tablespoons, 8 to 16 calories

Turkey

Eat skinless white-meat turkey instead of the dark meat. You'll be saving about 80 calories and 10 grams of fat. Portion size; 3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards), 130 calories

Veggies

Popkin says that as a general rule, "Eat more veggies and less potatoes." That's because starchy veggies like potatoes and sweet potatoes are heavy in calories. But watch out for casseroles, like a creamy green bean casserole with French-fried onions, which are heavy in saturated fat. Loading up your plate with fiber-rich vegetables and salad can fill you up so you don't eat as much of the more-fattening options. Just remember to use cream, or oil-based dressing like ranch and Caesar sparingly. Portion size: 1/2 cup vegetables or 1 cup salad, calories vary by vegetable

Beverages

Drink water or diet beverages instead of sugary sodas and juices. A recent study found that teens who consume sugar-sweetened drinks, like soda and fruit punch, drink an average of 356 calories per day. High soft drink consumption has been linked with health problems like obesity and diabetes in kids and teens.

DID YOU KNOW?

* Turkey is lower in fat and higher in protein than several other types of meat such as beef and pork.

CRITICAL THINKING:

* Some experts believe that cultural and economic trends, like increased processed-food production, are the driving force behind increased obesity rates. They think individual eating choices are less of a factor. Do you agree or disagree?

CROSS-CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS:

HISTORY/NUTRITION: Read about the foods on the menu at the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving at www.history.com /minisites/thanksgiving/viewPage?pageld=873. Compare the nutritional value of those foods with the foods reviewed in "Eat Smart, Don't Gobble." How has Thanksgiving meal changed from a nutritional point, of view?

RESOURCES

* Personalize a plan for healthy eating at: www.mypyramid.gov /mypyramid/index.aspx.

* See how "portion distortion" affects calorie intake by taking this online quiz at: http.//hp2010.nhibihin.net/portion/index.htm

CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING

DIRECTIONS: Circle the words in parentheses that correctly complete each of the following sentences.

To enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving meal, remember to keep portion sizes (small or large) and choose (dark or white) meat turkey, which (does or does not) include the skin.

Side dishes should be (low or high) in saturated fats, and veggies high in (fiber or starch). Reduce the risk of health problems like obesity and diabetes by drinking (water or soda).

ANSWERS

Eat Smart, Don't Gobble

small, white, does not, low, fiber, water
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Title Annotation:HEALTH: NUTRITION
Author:Carney, Elizabeth
Publication:Science World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 10, 2008
Words:704
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