Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving and the Food Pyramid (or Choose My Plate)

The average Thanksgiving meal is about 3000 calories, or about one and a half days worth of calories.  The average American eats about 4000 calories or more on Thanksgiving day, about twice as much as what is recommended daily.  Of course, everyone is talking about all the extra calories eaten during Thanksgiving but I want to talk about how the average Thanksgiving meal lines up with the latest food pyramid.  The latest food pyramid is actually a plate called Choose My Plate and can be found here.  To do this we must first identify what actually is found in an average Thanksgiving meal.

An Average Thanksgiving meal
Turkey: 8oz.
Stuffing: 1 cup
Green bean casserole: 1/2 cup
Mashed potatoes and gravy: 1 cup
Cranberry sauce: 1 slice
Sweet potatoes: 1/2 cup
Pumpkin pie: 1 slice
Total calories: about 3000

The above meal contains about 1 and 1/3 times the recommended daily intake of protein, at most 1/5 the daily recommended intake of fruits and veggies, about two times the amount of recommended carbohydrates, and the absence of healthy oils and dairy products.  So pretty much, the typical Thanksgiving meal is extremely carb and protein heavy.  The bad thing about carbs is that they are less filling than protein and oils or fats, which means you can end up eating a lot more of them.  So it is possible that the reason there are so many carbs in a typical Thanksgiving is because they are less filling, so people just end up eating more.

We won't even go into how to calculate how many hours of exercise it would take to burn these extra calories off, which is about 6 hours.  But hey, this is only one meal a year so its not something to really beat yourself up over, especially if you are eating healthy on a regular basis.

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