Battle of the Bulge

History books are wrong about the Battle of the Bulge. It didn’t happen in Europe during World War II; it’s happening in our homes on the fourth Thursday of every November. As Thanksgiving draws closer this year and threatens waistlines everywhere, it would be wise of us to devise a strategy to deal with this dangerous opponent. This opponent is none other than the duplicious Thanksgiving dinner. The following are the resources and attack strategies of the Thanksgiving dinner:

1. Ample ammunition in the form of calorie bombs (“C-bombs”), or turkey and ham that is tender, juicy and roasted to perfection. This first wave of attacks will be aggressive and devastating, as 1 cup of light meat has 276 calories and 12 grams of fat, 1 cup of dark meat has 309 calories and 1 cup of ham has 231 calories and 11 grams of fat.

2. Enemy territory features treacherous terrain to navigate. This territory includes golden canyons of mashed spuds with valleys of cascading rivers of butter and cream. Caution is advised to those who find themselves navigating these dangers, as 1 cup of mashed potatoes contains 237 calories and 9 grams of fat.

3. The enemy uses neurological depressants to inhibit cognitive functioning. They are more commonly known as luscious pies with flaky crusts. These are potent inducers of the well-documented and highly devastating “food coma,” as a slice of apple pie is 296 calories and 14 grams of fat, a pecan pie slice is 452 calories and 21 grams of fat and a piece of pumpkin pie is 229 calories and 10 grams of fat.

4. In many cases, the opponent uses greenery mobilized as a decoy, distracting us from the damage wrought by this carb onslaught. However, even vegetables can’t be completely trusted, as a 3/4 cup of green bean casserole packs a robust 165 calories and 10 grams of fat.

We must also consider the enemy’s staggering array of reinforcements, such as gravy (121 calories and 5 grams of fat per cup) and candied yams (335 calories and 9 grams of fat per 3/4 cup), it’s clear that this Thanksgiving struggle will not be an easy one to overcome.

But wait — there’s more. Word has it that the army of carbs has also forged an alliance with the weight scale, which is so potent that it is known to inflict psychological trauma upon those who merely look at it.

In fact, experts at the Health Management Resources, a national weight loss company, project that casualties will be staggering without a change in our eating tactics. In terms of calories eaten during Thanksgiving dinner alone, estimates range from a belt-busting 3,000 calories to an apocalyptic 7,100 calories. This caloric nightmare translates to an average of seven pounds gained between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. (It is also estimated that several pairs of jeans will lose their lives).

It should be obvious how detrimental a Thanksgiving meal can be to our health, so why do we continue gorging ourselves year after year? The answer is simple: we see it as an opportunity to indulge in delicacies otherwise absent from our usual diets. For instance, roast turkey is a delicacy reserved for special occasions — an integral part of the American gastronomy that we are loathe to eliminate. Our rationale is that Thanksgiving comes but once a year, so why not indulge?

So in the face of this adversity, is there any hope for our victory? Of course there is.

Madelyn Fernstrom, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Weight Management Center, has formulated an alternative strategy that may prove effective in this Battle of the Bulge. She notes, “You want to learn to think before you eat. It doesn’t mean don’t eat, it means make a better choice. You want to barter for your calories, which means you’re going to choose something you do like and not choose something else.”

Elizabeth Kitchin of the University of Alabama-Birmingham concurs with Fernstrom, also adding, “The place where we always have our downfall is simply eating too much — it’s not necessarily what we eat. You only get these [foods] really once a year, so enjoy them, but watch your portions.”

So despite the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against us, it appears as though all hope is not lost. Armed with the right mentality and eating techniques, we can emerge from the wishbone-strewn Thanksgiving battlefield both satisfied and victorious.