If you have been working on your health and habits lately, this week and the month that follows can be tricky and full of pitfalls. On average, an American adult consumes around 2000 calories a day but studies show that that same adult, if they consume a typical Thanksgiving meal, will eat 4,500-5,000 calories on that ONE day. Holy moly... and that can lead days of over eating due to insulin spikes that create craving responses coupled with having a lot of high-calorie, carb-rich foods around as leftovers. All of this can set you up for a set-back.
How do we celebrate and avoid falling off the wagon? Let me suggest doing a few things to help prevent this inevitable weight gain:
- Hydrate well. Drink your recommended amount of water in addition to whatever you are also drinking. This will have your digestion system functioning at it's best so that you can process your heavy meal. If you plan to start hydrating Thanksgiving morning, it's too late...and let's face it, you probably will be too busy doing and drinking other things to get it done properly.
- Exercise the day before and plan a walk or toss the football with the kids on the day of. Moving your body will not only burn calories in the moment, but will help aid your metabolism to keep burning. Also, this too will aid in your digestion. The longer the meal stays with you, the more calories your body will pull from it... gross, but true.
- While snacking before the big meal, choose fresh veggies and fruits. Their fiber content will get things moving, keep you full, and they have hydrating benefits. Avoid too much cheese, baked goods and crackers as these can cause a rise in your blood sugar and slow down your digestion.
- Use a smaller plate, if possible. You'll likely want to fill your plate with a little of everything available, so why not let yourself but just make the surface smaller?
- Make at least half of your plate vegetables. They are higher fiber, have less calories, and cause less insulin spiking...
- If you love sweet potato casserole with marshmallows or the four-cheese mac-n-cheese, taste it by getting a small spoonful of it and savor it...you don't need a whole plate of it to enjoy it, right?
- When it comes to desserts, a serving of dessert is plenty. But what if there are 6 desserts you love?? In this situation, think of a typical serving size and take 1/6 size of each you love. Man, if you eat 6 servings of dessert, you are going to feel like hell....just don't do it. And, that amount of calories leads to weight gain that you may put on in 5 minutes worth of eating but take 6 weeks of exercise and dieting to get off. Just don't.
- Let's discuss alcohol...if you are going to drink, take note of the calories on your beverage of choice. A couple-three drinks can quickly add up to a meal's worth of calories. Not to mention, just feeling a little tipsy can cause you to lose your inhibitions and can lead to eating more. Just promise yourself that you'll drink a glass of water between each glass of wine or cocktail. It'll lessen your headache and keep you sober enough to make better food choices. (and possibly keep you form arguing with your uncle...)
Be smart. Indulge only on the things most important to you and practice restraint everywhere else. Focus on the purpose of the holiday and be GRATEFUL for your life, your loved ones, and your ability to have this meal in front of you. Not everyone is as fortunate as you are and no amount of pie is more important than that fact.
If you have that family member who grates on your nerves, politely excuse yourself from the conversation and and walk outside, take a deep breath. Care for yourself and and your emotional state. No political topic is worth losing your fudge over on this one day....you probably won't change their mind, anyhow.