“Indulgence vs. gluttony does not = deprivation” – the Jewels theory.

Navigating the holidays without gaining weight is difficult, but doable when you know how to make healthy eating choices. Contrary to popular belief, Thanksgiving does not mean you have to stuff your face full of absurd amounts of fat, sugar, and complex carbs until you’re gorged so full you can’t move. However, it also

Tatjana’s first Thanksgiving (from the weekly diary of her first year).

doesn’t have to mean complete abstinence. You can have a little  (little being the operative word), splurge in celebration, and still avoid gaining weight or boosting your cholesterol to the danger point. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Tatjana Rhodes enjoying a healthy Thanksgiving dinner

1). Thou shalt not skip meals. When you’re ravenously hungry all reason goes out the window, especially when you think you’ve saved up enough calories to go overboard to boot!

2). Thou shall remember Thanksgiving dinner is the meal it is all about. That doesn’t mean all meals throughout the weekend should be an indulge fest. Eat sensibly.

3). Thou shalt not graze between meals. It is frightening how fast those calories can add up when you mindlessly nibble. I know, it’s so easy to do, especially with the enticing aromas wafting from the kitchen all day long, but don’t. Those goodies are never as good as the main event, and you’ll enjoy your meal all the more.

Strolling the Plaza with my sister and my favorite niece and nephew

4). Thou shalt not be a couch potato. Get up and move, take long walks, keep your metabolism in peak form to be digesting that larger than usual meal.

5). Thou shalt stay hydrated. Avoid drinking sugary drinks, and limit your alcohol intake. Drink plenty of water – 6-8 cups a day, or more if you are drinking heavily or exercising intensely.

Healthier options

6). Thou shall bring forth healthy foods in abundance. Seek out healthier options for the holiday classics. Use a little less butter and cream, substituting them with healthier fats. Minimize salt and sugar where possible. Make sure there is a colorful array of vegetables on your table to make up the bulk of what ends up on your plate.

7). You are an adult, so eat like one, or you shall be banished to the kids table forever. Sometimes we’re tempted to let our inner child rule, and skip the healthy stuff, in favor of childhood favorites. Remember you’re setting the example for your own children. The younger they learn good eating habits, the healthier they’ll be.

8). Thou shalt think smaller! We overfill our plates at holiday time, especially when it is a buffet we help ourselves to. Know what a correct portion size looks like, and stick to it. If anything takes less, and if you really must, come back for seconds.

Thankful for my family gathering (Tatjana was in school in London at the time)

9). Thou shalt savor thine food. Slow down, and really taste each bite. When you eat slowly, you are less likely to overeat, and you will enjoy every morsel that much more. It takes about 20 minutes after eating before our brains (and tummies) register as full, so take a break before going back for seconds, and ask yourself “am I really still hungry or just eating because it is there?”

10).Thou shall not deprive oneself. Choose one heavenly indulgent treat (in its correct serving size), and make sure your other choices are healthier ones. Skip piling the mountain high stuffing and the brown sugar-laden sweet potato casserole on your plate, if you want a piece of that pecan pie, or if you really must have one bite-size taste of each – to get them out of your system – and have a smaller piece of the pie. Or, skip the pie for the sweet potatoes and have a piece of fruit for dessert. Remember, it is really much more about realistic, healthy choices and portion control, than deprivation.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

I always have a hard time deciding between the pumpkin pie and pecan pie, so I came up with this pumpkin pie ice cream recipe to go with my pecan pie. The best of both worlds. A small scoop will still afford me the tasting pleasure, and I take an extra long walk to balance the additional calories.



1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 cup whole milk
1 cups heavy cream
1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs


1). Using an electric mixer, mix pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and bourbon until well blended, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2).In a small heavy saucepan bring milk, heavy cream, and sugar to a boil, stir occasionally.

3). Whisk eggs in a small bowl. Temper by adding 1/3 of the hot milk mixture in a slow stream whilst whisking constantly. Transfer mixture back into the same saucepan, and set over low heat, stirring and scraping down the sides of the pan with a small heatproof spatula until thickened. Do not boil. Cook until the custard coats the back of the spoon. Pour custard into a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl to strain out any bits.

4). Stir in pumpkin mixture.

5. Chill custard, then freeze in an ice cream maker for 30-45 minutes. Transfer soft ice cream to an airtight container and keep in the freezer to firm up.


Serve on its own, with a slice of pecan pie, or use it to make a pumpkin ice cream pie with gram cracker crust.

This post was first published November 24, 2011.

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