Moderation is probably at the bottom of your priority list during the Thanksgiving holiday because the holidays provide ample opportunity to conveniently forget about weight loss and fitness goals. The truth is that you can enjoy your holiday feast without over-indulging in fatty foods full of empty calories and no nutritional value. The trick is finding out how to do it without feeling as though you’re being deprived.
Below are a few strategies to help you minimize the effects of the Thanksgiving meal on your body.
Don’t go to dinner hungry. Even though you want to sink into every delicious side dish and enjoy a big slice of turkey, you should make an effort to eat before dinner. I know some families start the big dinner around lunch time, but if your family waits until dinner then make breakfast and lunch a priority. Starving before Thanksgiving dinner will slow down your metabolism, and set back your weight loss efforts.
Avoid Empty Calories. There will be plenty of calories on the table in the form of mashed potatoes, gravy, macaroni and cheese and tons of other dishes, don’t compound that with empty calories from soda, beer and wine. Just one glass of beer or wine or even a shot of tequila can add a few hundred calories to your daily intake, plus give you that unsightly bulge you’re trying to avoid.
Eat like a Cow! Eating like a cow doesn’t mean eating until your belly is full to bursting, but it means eat exactly as cows do; very slowly. Don’t just shovel the food into your mouth, because your brain won’t get the memo that your appetite has been satisfied and you’ll keep eating beyond the point of satiety.
Balance The Meal! Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean your healthy habits should be on holiday as well. Don’t just pile your plate high with carbs, fat and sugar; instead make sure you’re mostly eating lean protein (like turkey breast) and vegetables. Enjoy the other foods in small portions.
Go skinless. I know that crispy turkey skin can be quite appetizing but it also has tons of cholesterol and fat–two things no healthy diet needs–so leave the skin on the serving platter where it belongs. It adds lots of flavor to the meat, but you don’t have to eat it to enjoy that flavor.
Limit high fat items. Enjoying your Thanksgiving meal doesn’t require you to go nuts with high fat foods that contain milk, butter, cheese and cream. Think of dishes like creamy mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and candied yams; these are all filled with sugar and fat. Unless you’ve prepared Thanksgiving dinner yourself, the only thing you can do is moderate your portion sizes. Moderate portions can save you thousands of calories to burn.
Pace yourself. Thanksgiving dinner is a big production for most families, usually lasting several hours with several helpings of yummy food. To satisfy the hostess and thank him or her for hours slaved away in a hot kitchen we tend to stuff ourselves silly. Pace yourself by allowing yourself just two or three food items per plate, or limiting yourself to no more than two plates of food.
It is estimated that most Americans consume at least 6,000 calories on Thanksgiving, avoid being part of that statistic by limiting your servings and serving sizes.
Make healthy Thanksgiving leftovers. If you are willing to put in the research and do the work, you’ll find no end to leftover Thanksgiving recipes. Rather than slathering turkey sandwiches in gravy, make a healthy stew or salad. Add your favorite vegetables or even whole grain rice for a healthy day after meal.
Exercise! Don’t stuff yourself so silly that you need to be rolled out of the house. Instead of watching endless hours of football, start your own backyard game of touch football or take a walk after a heavy meal and enjoy the changing leaves. Find a way to be active, even if it’s burning calories by volunteering to help clean up the kitchen.
Enjoy one of the many events happening in the local area. Don’t forget about your fitness goals over the holidays and you won’t have to worry about making unnecessary New Year’s resolutions!
Dennys Passeto, CPT
Personal Trainers In Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia