Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy all your favorite foods without worry over weight gain.
Wether cooking at home for 2 or 20, eating away from home with family, or visiting restaurants or buffets it is possible to enjoy all your favorite holiday foods and meals without putting on those dreaded extra 7 holiday pounds.
Here are a few strategies I wish to share with you to help you navigate all the tempting holiday extravagancies and still maintain your health and weight.
Stay hydrated! Drink at least 8oz of water before and during each meal or party event. Make sure you are also drinking extra nonalcoholic, non caffeinated drinks to account for any extra salty foods you might consume, as well as the drying effects of flying or a different physical environment.
Choose wisely! With often many choices overwhelming our senses during the holidays, it might be difficult to decide what to put on your plate. Assess all the available choices and prioritize what you can live without and what you absolutely must try. Often we take servings of dishes that we just don’t love….why bother! With so many choices available, pick just your favorites and take appropriate serving sizes. Tempted to take double desserts or extra mashed potatoes? Use the smallest plate available to you, and don’t let your servings overlap each other. In most cases, you can always go back for more if you weren’t satisfied with your first serving. Let your mouth enjoy the flavors and allow your stomach time to talk to your brain to tell you when you are full without pushing past the comfort zone.
Slow down! When desserts, snacks and appetizers are always at the ready, practice patience and pace yourself. Offer to help in the kitchen or entertain children in another room to remove the temptation of standing over the table snacking mindlessly. When having a sit down meal that might be served in courses, try to know how many courses to expect and plan. When you know you want a slice of pumpkin pie at the end of the meal, account for those calories by taking smaller portions (or skipping altogether) of a side dish that might also be sweet and calorie dense (cranberry sauce, sweet potato casseroles or rolls and butter). Chew slowly. Chewing each bite of food at least 12-15 times has been shown to help individuals realize when they are full sooner, so as not to continue eating beyond comfort.
Maintain your regular daily healthy eating habits during special events by including a lean protein source at each meal/snack. Protein and fat take longer to digest, helping you feel full longer. Watch the carbs! So many of our favorite holiday dishes are carb heavy, so be sure to moderate and balance them out just as you would a meal you make at home. Remember the new My Plate diagram? You can still apply this to holiday meals. Aim to make half your plate vegetables and fruits, one quarter lean proteins and the other quarter whole grains.
Stay regular! As much as possible, try to maintain some regularity to your day. If you typically walk in the mornings, or visit the gym during lunch see what types of physical activity you can fit into your holiday planning. Visiting relatives might be relieved if you ask them to join you at the gym instead of shopping all day!
I believe Thanksgiving is a time to share of ourselves; we share our homes, our goodwill and good food with our families and friends. Why not enjoy it?!? We can also maintain our good sense of respecting our bodies by not overindulging so that we truly do enjoy every bite.
Best wishes for a healthy and satisfying Thanksgiving feast.