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Thanksgiving runs precede major calorie fest

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The average American adult will consume about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. According to the Calorie Control Council, a traditional Thanksgiving spread consists of about 3,000 calories while Americans indulge in another up to 1,500 in appetizers and drinks.

Worse, the council estimates that 45 percent of those calories come from fat. That means most people consume more than two times the recommended daily caloric intake with just one meal and exceed the recommended fat intake by 3.5 times.

Thanksgiving is the official kickoff of the holiday season and its no wonder it’s the time of year most Americans gain weight.

But never fear, there are plenty of Thanksgiving runs to make the Turkey Day one where you can be full of turkey and stuffing, but not necessarily guilt.

Throughout the Tampa Bay area there are five scheduled runs. The annual Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot is in Clearwater this year with all runs beginning at Keene Road just south of Gulf to Bay Boulevard. Races start at 7 in the morning.

Races cost anywhere from $12 to $35. Racers can register for that run here. Registration is also available the day of, but prices go up $5.

In Tampa there’s the Goody Goody Turkey Trot. One mile, 5k and 5k team races are available. Those events begin at 7 at Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa’s Channelside district. Preregistered racers pay from $15-$32. Prices increase on the day of race.

New Port Richey is hosting the Gobbler Run. That race features a 5k, 10K and kid’s half-mile fun run. There’s also the “I Gobbled it 15k Challenge” and a 5k virtual run where registrants can run wherever is convenient. Those racers will later be mailed a T-shirt and finisher’s medal. Check the group’s website for availability. Some runs are already sold out.

Lithia is hosting the Fishhawk Turkey Trot with a 5k, one-mile and 0.3-mile runs available. Plant City boasts the YMCA 5k Turkey Trot.

If running isn’t your thing, there are some other ways to mitigate the Thanksgiving calorie load. The Calorie Control Council recommends substituting ingredients in some dishes to make them less fatty and lighten the calorie load. That can include things like using skim milk instead of whole or researching “skinny” recipes.

For example, traditional mashed potatoes typically packed with fat can be made much more guilt-free by cooking the potatoes in chicken stock and using the juice instead of milk or cream.

They also recommend preparing for temptations. If you can’t decide between pumpkin or pecan pie, have both, but make the servings half-sized.

And perhaps the easiest way to mitigate the extra holiday calories is to go for a walk after dinner. The Calorie Control Council suggests making a new tradition. If families live near a park, it’s also not a bad idea to consider walking there for a game of kickball or any other sport the family can participate in.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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