Thanksgiving is a time we spend with family and friends and a time to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of great indulgence and can wreak havoc on our diets. Here are some great tips to moderate your indulgence and still have a fabulous holiday!
1. Start the day off right with a good breakfast. Even though you will be eating a lot later in the day, eating breakfast will actually help you to keep your metabolism going. It will also prevent you from feeling starving and wanting to eat all the goodies in sight. People who skip breakfast tend to overeat during the day. Start the day with some scrambled egg whites and a slice of dry wheat or gluten free toast. Be sure to also drink plenty of water with your breakfast as well.
2. Hit the gym or the pavement before your big meal. Doing 30-45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise before Thanksgiving dinner can not only help to burn a lot of calories, but it can ease a lot of holiday stress! If you are stressed about seeing certain family members or in-laws, take it out on the elliptical and burn out the aggravation! Is your kid wreaking havoc on your kitchen while you are trying to cook? Take a break and hit the road for a couple miles and let it out! This will also help you to avoid stress eating.
3. Begin your meal with an antipasto, salad, or high protein and fiber appetizer. By doing this, you will fill yourself up quicker with lighter and healthier options. The fiber of a leafy green salad mixed with water will help to fill you up quicker. The water will bind to the fiber and create a fuller feeling in your tummy without having a big heavy meal! Some great options besides a starter salad are carrots and broccoli with hummus dip or lean turkey meatballs. Skip out on the heavy cheese and crackers! These are loaded with saturated fats, high glycemic carbohydrates, and will also increase your thirst because of the high level of sodium. You may end up drinking more wine because you feel thirsty, More wine = more calories!
4. Save the wine for dinner. It’s difficult to avoid drinking on a family holiday that’s focused around food. Wine can have between 150-200 calories per glass, depending on the size of the glass! Pour yourself a glass of flavored sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice to sip on instead or start out with a cup of coffee and skim milk. These choices are much less calories and you won’t feel as fatigued later on in the day.
5. Use a smaller dinner plate. When we are hungry, our eyes tend to be larger than our tummies. If the food is in front of you and there is room on your plate, chances are you are going to fill your plate up with more food. Instead of grabbing for everything in sight, use a smaller plate that’s meant for a salad. This will help you to control your portion sizes. You can still fit the turkey, potatoes, corn and cranberry sauce all on there! As Americans, we think the normal portion size is what we see at restaurants but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A normal portion size of meet is approximately 3 oz. or the size of a deck of cards. A normal portion size for potatoes or corn should fit in the palm of your hand.
6. Try to eat gluten free. Gluten is a protein found in breads, processed foods, desserts, pastas, and many more foods. By eating gluten free, you will feel less bloated and natural eat less high starch foods that tend to be higher in calories. Items that you may find gluten in at the thanksgiving table are: cornbread, stuffing, pies, certain turkey gravy, biscuits, and if you are a beer drinker, gluten is in your beer. “But wait, that’s cutting into most of the good stuff at the meal!” Not necessarily, you can have turkey and use gluten free gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, apple sauce, and sweet potatoes or yam pie.
7. Share dessert with your sweetheart. A slice of apple or pumpkin pie can run between 300-600 calories each, depending on how it’s made! Yikes! For some of us that is a 1/4or a 1/3 of what our daily caloric intake allows for. Sharing a dessert with your husband or wife or even your child can save a bundle of calories! If you’re apple pie is 400 calories and you cut it in half, that’s only 200 calories!
8. Bring your own dessert. Notice that eating gluten free pretty much leaves out any dessert. Some gluten free dessert options are saving the sweet potato pie, apple sauce, or yams for dessert. You can also try a baked apple with brown sugar and cinnamon or how about a liquid dessert of home-made apple cider!
9. Skip the nap, hit the pavement. Bring a nice warm coat with you so while everyone is in a food coma after the meal, you can use this time wisely and have a nice brisk walk. A half hour brisk walk can be enough to burn off that extra glass of wine and will help to boost your metabolism. You will feel much better by the end of the day and less bloated if you get some exercise!
10. Concentrate on conversation with friends and family. Focus your energy and thoughts around people instead of food. This will help to keep you away from nibbling and snacking and you can use your mouth for less calorically challenging activities! Talk to a family member who makes you laugh, tell stories, have a good time. Laughing burns calories too!