Turkey Day Confidential
Dear Rich Lifer,
There are many wonderful things to be thankful for this holiday season: family, friends, our homes and jobs, the delicious food…but what about our health?
Did you know that the average American gains up to five pounds in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas? While there are many factors that can lead to this weight gain, overeating is easily a key factor.
Throughout the holiday season, it seems as though our main focus is food! Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas cookies, eggnog and cocoa, Christmas dinner…and of course all the leftovers! How do we balance these delicious treats while keeping an eye on our health and avoiding those pesky pounds?
Fortunately, I have a few no hassle ways to tighten your belt this holiday season, without feeling as though you’re sacrificing tradition and all the fun of Thanksgiving.
Load Up on the Veggies (No, Mashed Potatoes Don’t Count)
While stuffing and mashed potatoes are delicious, your carb-filled side dishes should only take up about a quarter of your plate. Fill another quarter with delicious turkey (or ham if you go the non-traditional route), and the other half of your plate with veggies.
Vegetables are loaded with fiber, which helps you feel full faster. Remember, everything in moderation. Don’t worry about restricting yourself during one of the most treasured meals of the year, cutting carbs during the Thanksgiving meal is a lost cause. Instead, take a smaller portion size so that you can still enjoy the meal without going overboard.
After your first plate of food, wait about twenty minutes before grabbing seconds. That will give your brain enough time to process whether or not you even have room for more food. This is a mindset you can apply to all of your meals and snacks.
Slow down to give your body time to process and really focus on enjoying your meal. Which leads me to my next point…
Take Your Time
During a delicious Thanksgiving meal it is only natural to –gobble– down your food quickly, but did you know that this habit is a huge factor in weight gain? If you eat slower, you end up consuming less food by the time your brain tells you you’re full.
If you eat too quickly, you consume more by the time your brain can process how full your stomach is. So take slow, small bites and enjoy being a part of the conversation at the dinner table.
Cut Back on Butter
I recently came across a video tutorial for prepping “The Tastiest Thanksgiving Turkey of All Time”. I was halfway through the video (and drooling) when I realized that what was making this meal unique was that the chef was quite literally stuffing his turkey with butter.
Butter was coating this turkey inside and out. While butter is a way to enhance to just about any meal, there are significantly healthier alternatives to experiment with this holiday season. Try flavoring your turkey with fresh garlic and onion, and herbs like rosemary.
Your food will taste amazing, and your arteries will thank you!
Skip the Extras
It is not unusual for a Thanksgiving host to provide appetizers before the holiday meal begins. Who doesn’t enjoy a spread of cheese and crackers, mini weenies, or chips and a fancy dip while watching the Thanksgiving football game?
Unfortunately for us, when we load up on pre-dinner snacks, we can end up consuming tons of extra calories before the big meal even begins! If given the option of a veggie plate, indulge to your heart’s content, but try and let the dips and spinach puffs go this year.
Ditch Canned Pie Filling
Arguably the best part of Thanksgiving dinner: Dessert. Approximately 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten on Thanksgiving each year. Even with those staggering statistics, pumpkin pie is still comes in second when compared to America’s favorite pie: Apple.
Look, I don’t expect anyone to pass on the pie, especially on Thanksgiving day. But consider some simple ways to healthily freshen up your Thanksgiving desserts without compromising flavor.
Donate your canned pie filling to the nearest food bank and make your own! Canned pie fillings are loaded with sugar and syrup. Use fresh ingredients to make a dessert that your friends or family will remember.
Additionally, baking your own desserts will get you up and moving, which will burn a few extra calories and help you enjoy your holiday meal, guilt-free.
Does One Meal Define Your Diet?
At the end of the day, no one is asking you to skip your Thanksgiving dinner. Becoming more aware of what you’re eating is a crucial step to making healthier choices.
One meal does not a diet make, nor does one meal a diet break. With days growing shorter and nights longer, it becomes very simple to fall into habits of overeating and avoiding exercise. The reason that so many Americans gain weight throughout the holiday season is not because they indulged in one Thanksgiving dinner, but instead, because they develop unhealthy and sedentary habits.
After that Thanksgiving meal come Thanksgiving left-overs, and then the Christmas cookies and baked goods, and so on and so forth until we find ourselves thawing out for spring heavier than we were before. Don’t let yourself become a statistic this holiday season.
One of the best gifts you can give to your loved ones is your own health. Take charge of your nutrition and do all that you can to keep your body moving and filled with the right kinds of foods.
To a richer life,