The Thanksgiving lie

Thanksgiving. The one holiday that not only is celebrated by food, but actually celebrates food. Wouldn’t our American ancestors be proud? How often do we get to taste Aunt Flo’s pecan pie or Grandma’s stuffing? This holiday only comes once a year.

I have news for you. All holidays only come once a year. As do birthdays, anniversaries and Groundhog Day. And then there are those once-in-a-lifetime events … dad’s retirement and a neighbor’s daughter’s baby shower. Each event is special. Each gathering is memorable. And at the center of them all … there’s food. Next week it’s Thanksgiving. Let’s look at what we’re going to be faced with …

While a traditional Thanksgiving dinner plate can add up to 3,000 calories (that’s more than most people are supposed to eat in one day), many people start packing on pounds even before the feast. BLTs (Bites-Licks-Tastes) include “harmless” nibbles like nuts (80 calories), a piece of cheese (90 calories), a spoonful of stuffing (30 calories), a piece of turkey skin (55 calories), and licking the frosting off the spatula (75 calories). Add a few sips of wine, and you’ve consumed nearly 500 calories, before dinner. And because these morsels have been eaten on the fly, they don’t even register on the satisfaction meter in our brains.

If you are planning on serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll want to remember two things: Turkey skin is almost 100% fat (300 calories, 23g fat in about 3.5 ounces) and butter is 35 calories per teaspoon. (Check out our Dirty Mashed Potato recipe at It’s delicious and no one will know it’s fat-free.)

If you really want, you can find amazing recipes that aren’t laden with fat, ones that people will ask you to make again, recipes that family members will come to associate with your home and your family holidays. We are all concerned about generational obesity. We wish healthier recipes and habits had been passed down to us. Yet we buy into the lie that “what makes a warm, wonderful holiday is a bowl of nuts and pecan pie (480 calories per slice).”

While you’re printing the Dirty Mashed Potato recipe, check out our fabulous Pumpkin Pinwheels with cream cheese filling. If you don’t think it will taste good enough for company … I dare you to make it ahead of time and try it.

If you’re really worried about these recipes being tasteless just because they’re “light,” take it from someone who ate her way to 350 pounds and loves tasty food, the only thing that will miss all the fat this Thanksgiving will be your heart … and your thighs.

Think about this — everyone in your family may be thin today, but they all have arteries. And even if they don’t have a weight problem right now, chances are they will.

Kim is a lifetime dieter who lost more than 200 pounds. She leads motivational meetings at The Kim Bensen Weight Loss Center, 405 Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton. Or come to Kim’s Light Café, opening Dec. 1. For more information, call 203-513-8722 or visit