How to Battle Holiday Desserts, and Win

Single portions here, and be reasonable. Think a little more than the amount you'd receive from a hospital tray. If it's a pie or cake, think about an "arc" the width of three fingers.

Hold the bells and whistles. "A la mode" is just an additional dessert.

Take your time and savor! Be the last one to start eating the dessert and the last one to finish it. Enjoy every bite. Have coffee with your dessert to stretch out your savoring, and put a little real half-and-half in your coffee. It's only a few extra calories and there's no need to overachieve.

Even if it's your favorite dessert, leave any parts you don't really want. If you go for the filling but not the pie crust, leave it.

As for calories, an average slice of pumpkin pie (1/8 of a pie) is about 260 calories -- almost exactly the amount of your recommended discretionary calories.

Makes you wonder whether the USDA and the dietary guidelines had Thanksgiving in mind.

Pumpkin pie even has some nice nutrients -- like beta carotene and fiber -- but hey, it's Thanksgiving. Just enjoy it.

Check out those guidelines at

Keith-Thomas Ayoob is the author of "The Uncle Sam Diet," based on the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, and an associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

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