Experts offer tips to avoid gaining that holiday weight |

Experts offer tips to avoid gaining that holiday weight

A local group is trying to get Summit County to think differently about Thanksgiving, making the day more about family and fun than food.
Getty Images

FRISCO — Thanksgiving, America’s favorite feasting holiday, has arrived. Aside from being grateful for our blessings, Thanksgiving also is about turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, gravy, fresh-baked rolls, pie, ice cream, cranberry sauce … basically, a whole lot of food. 

In anticipation of the gorging — and inevitable regret so many of us feel afterward — a local dietician is offering some tips on how to enjoy the holiday without the glutton’s remorse afterward.

Gretchen Broecker, a registered dietician for Centura Health’s High Country Healthcare in Frisco, wants Summit residents to look at Thanksgiving as a holiday that is less about eating and more about appreciation, family time and group activities. 

“Thanksgiving has been made into this tradition of eating a lot of food very quickly, feeling awful afterward and taking a big nap,” Broecker said. “As a dietician, I try to tell people to still enjoy the day but to also think about not giving up on their health goals, even if it’s just for a day.”

Broecker is also on the committee for Physical Activity and Nutrition Team of the Summit, which encourages healthy eating and active lifestyles among residents. In its fifth year, the PANTS committee is encouraging a Holiday Trimmings challenge to get people to change their approach to health during the holidays.

“The concept is to not focus on losing weight but maintaining a healthy weight,” Broecker said. “The average American gains 1 to 5 pounds during the holidays and never lose it. This challenge intends to get people to take their focus away from their food and have more fun with the holiday.”

Broecker said the holiday season can stretch from Halloween to Easter in April, when eating “junk” and high-calorie meals becomes a norm. The low-activity period during winter is also a contributor to expanding waistlines.

“We’d encourage people to look at the holidays to not be about the meals but about being outdoors or being with the family,” Broecker said. “Find active things to do instead of sitting in front of the TV and eating.”

As far as how to navigate the food on Thanksgiving, Broecker said it’s all about enjoying the meal with a tactical mindset.

“I think we try in everyday life to focus on balance, and that doesn’t mean it has to taste bad,” Broecker said. “Get your protein with turkey, but don’t go overboard on all the carbs: stuffing, mashed potatoes, bread, pie. Try smaller portions, and fill the plate with vegetables. Try recipes that are tasty and appealing. You don’t need to substitute flavor with quantity.”

Broecker said the time after the meal could be used to treat visitors to all the great activities available in the county, like hiking and snowshoeing. The town of Frisco also will be hosting its annual Turkey Day 5K race in the morning, which will be a great way for folks to get out and burn some calories before the afternoon festivities.

Some other tips to keep in mind on Thanksgiving are to make sure to eat breakfast or other meals before the Thanksgiving dinner, as getting that metabolic kick beforehand helps burn more calories as well as ensure you don’t get hungry and go overboard for the calorie-rich feast at the end of the day.

Also, be mindful of alcoholic beverages and the number of calories they pack. A 12-ounce can of beer has about 150 calories, while an 8-ounce pour of white or red wine has nearly 200. Those calories sneak up on you, and alcohol can add to the lethargy and post-meal malaise that shuts the engine down, keeping those calories from burning.

For more information about the six-week team Holiday Trimmings challenge, email or visit

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.