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University Hospital nutritionists urge 'girth control' for Thanksgiving feast

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Americans celebrating Thanksgiving with the traditional feast with all the trimmings can expect to consume over 1,700 calories in one sitting, say University Hospital nutrition experts.

As calories go, 1,700 are a lot to consume at one sitting, said Justin Ogden, a registered dietician and chef at University Hospital. "That would be like eating six Snickers bars or 18 Chicken McNuggets, a medium order of French fries, chocolate shake and apple pie at one sitting. Most people only need about 2,000 calories a day."

But Ogden says the 1,700 calories doesn't include hard-to-refuse seconds, plus the before-meal hors d'oeuvres and drinks. "What makes this day even more devilish for one's diet, is many people use the holiday as an excuse to take a break from exercising," he said. "We spend many hours in the kitchen preparing the meal or sitting in front of the TV."

So to make sure that the turkey is the only one stuffed on Thanksgiving Day, Ogden suggests Americans practice "girth control."

Girth-control is all about controlling portion size. But because it's often difficult to visualize what 1/3 cup looks like when monitoring portions, nutritionists suggest using various objects to help judge portion size.

The following are examples of appropriate serving sizes: ? 3 oz. of turkey should be the size of a deck of cards ? 1/3 cup of stuffing should be the size of a kiwi ? 1/4 cup of gravy should be the size of ping pong ball ? if you're consuming alcohol, no more than 4 oz. or what would fit in half a baseball or fill an empty cupcake wrapper ? 1/8 of a 9-inch pumpkin pie (a slice) should be the size of a computer mouse.

"The best way to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal is to eat smaller portions and taste a little bit of everything," Ogden said. "If you halve the portions, you also halve the calories."

If you have trouble practicing "girth control" and paring down your portion size, Ogden has some other hints to guard against overeating during the holidays. They are: ? Drink a large glass of water before eating to fill up your stomach and make less room available for the dinner. ? Don't loosen your belt; when you get that full feeling, it's time to stop eating. ? Never skip a meal before the big dinner. Saving calories doesn't work. You'll be so hungry, you'll end up overeating at dinner. ? Eat slowly and enjoy the company and conversation.