The holidays can be a difficult time of year to keep our weight and eating habits in check. Some of us look forward ALL year to that calorie-laden meal of turkey, stuffing, gravy, and grandma’s pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream. Then there are some of us that just want to enjoy the day, but not overdo it. I’ll be sharing some great tips to help avoid weight gain during Thanksgiving.
Before the Meal
- Have breakfast. Don’t arrive to Thanksgiving completely ravenous. Have a healthy breakfast filled with protein, fat, and veggies (ex: an omelet with veggies and lean chicken sausage).
- Eat a snack. Depending on what time the meal will be served, it may be helpful to eat a small snack ahead of time (ex: protein drink/bar, a handful of almonds, or a hard-boiled egg).
- Sample sparingly. If you’re the chef, try not to sample your recipes too much along the way.
- Listen to your hunger cues. Consider the emotional connection some of us have with food. Be in the moment when you eat – and enjoy the great company and wonderful atmosphere.
- Eat healthy starters. If hors d’oeuvres are offered, try to incorporate veggies and protein while also limiting how much you snack on.
- Drink in moderation. Remember not to overindulge with wine, beer, and alcoholic drinks (as these also add excess calories).
During the Meal
- Choose wisely. Take small ¼-cup size portions if you’d like to try several offerings. Remember, you can always have more later, but at least you will have sampled all that you wanted to.
- Pick less calorie-dense foods. For instance, have turkey, veggies, and cranberry relish versus turkey, gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, and buttered buns.
- Eat slowly. Remember to savor each bite and to put your fork down occasionally.
- Relax – and eat in a relaxed atmosphere. No rushing needed here. Our digestive juices flow better when we are in a rested and calm state of mind.
- Drink water. This will help fill our stomach, so we will feel full and won’t eat so much food.
- Be mindful. When dessert comes out, take a body check of your hunger level.
- Sample. If you have room, enjoy a ¼-cup or less sampling of a few different desserts. You’ll be more satisfied if you allow yourself to try a few. (Research shows we taste only the first few bites, then just continue to eat.) So savor a few bites of your favorite desserts, and enjoy them.
Last, but not least, remember you don’t need to be a member of the “Clean Your Plate” club. Your body will thank you, you will feel better, and you'll keep the weight off. And don't forget about exercise. It's beneficial to increase our activity level a few days before a big meal and a few days after to work off some of the extra calories we'll be taking in.
These tips can be used throughout the holiday season. Everybody is different, so do what works best for you and, most importantly, follow through. Enjoy your holidays in good health!