Each year, the average American gains five pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Thanksgiving is about expressing thankfulness and spending quality time with friends and family, and much of that time tends to be centered around food. That’s why we are sharing a few tips to maintaining, not gaining, over the holidays:
7. Plan and scan. When you arrive at an event, survey the buffet before making your choices. Select the one or two unhealthy food items that you really want the most, and get those. Get smaller portions or healthy alternative to fill the rest of your plate. And don’t go to a party hungry. We tend to eat faster and eat more when we’re hungry. Try to eat your normal, healthy breakfast (or lunch) to avoid overeating at the party.
6. Don’t forget to count the beverages. Drinks can pack a punch, and don’t you forget it. The sodas, ciders, eggnogs, cocoas and other festive drinks flow in abundance at these holiday gatherings, but they can carry a lot of forgotten calories. Alternate these drinks with a glass of water, or try low-fat or sugar-free versions of the same drinks.
5. Realize it is just another meal. Eat as much as you normally would at a regular meal. Yes, I know everything looks delicious, but if you think it is some important occasion then you will overindulge. Say goodbye to the excuse that it only comes once a year and realize that it does come every year. You could make this meal during any time of the year as well. Think of the other things that make Thanksgiving dinner special aside from the food.
4. Get active and participate in a Turkey Trot. Go online, find the closest turkey trot race near you and sign up (you will thank yourself later)! Ask your friends and family to participate and start off the bonding for the day. It doesn’t matter how fit you are or aren’t – running or just walking the race will be a great accomplishment. Plus it burns a few calories that will help balance out the mini indulgence you have during dinner. Also, don’t negate your regular exercise routine over the holidays. Exercise and activity can relieve stress on top of burning calories.
3. Socialize – away from the food!!! As the food is being prepared most of us normally have the tendency to s neak some food in. Just watching someone cook the food makes us mentally prepare for how much we are going to eat because it looks SO good. Most holiday happenings tend to take place around food, and extra eating is inevitable. Instead of hanging around the table or counter to talk, walk around and socialize! Find out 5 new facts about every person in the room. Once dinner is served don’t stop chatting. If you are having a good conversation during dinner it will make your mouth multitask. Talking will prolong the time it takes to eat so you won’t scarf your food down and prepare for seconds. The holidays are about spending that quality time with your loved ones!
2. Throw away your plate- I know it is hard to decide when to stop eating, but after your first helping of food, throw away your plate. If it is on nice dinnerware casually put too much salt on your food so it will taste horrible. If you are still craving something after 15 minutes or are hungry and don’t care for desserts, go ahead and get a second helping. Keep it small as to not over eat remember this is your second helping. And be weary of “guilt eating” – Aunt Mary knows how much you love her coconut cake, and she made it with you in mind. Don’t feel the need to eat three helpings out of guilt. There’s no shame in packing a to-go plate to enjoy your slice (or half slice) of coconut cake later.
1.Use recipe substitutions. Modifying your holiday recipes is one of the easiest ways to shave down some of the calorie intake. When baking, try using applesauce instead of oil, egg whites instead of whole eggs, or low-fat or Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. All of the holiday staples – mayonnaise, cheese, cream soup, etc. – all have lower fat options. Do some research! When going to a holiday gathering, prepare a healthy dish to take with you. That way, you know you are guaranteed at least one healthy option!
The holidays are not about dieting. Thanksgiving should be a time to celebrate and be thankful for your family and friends. It’s important to enjoy these festivities, but in moderation. Remember that overeating at one meal will not make or break your diet for the rest of the year. It is the continuous weeks of binge eating between Thanksgiving and the New Year that packs on those extra five pounds and carries over into the new year. And if you slip up and overindulge at Grandma’s table, put it behind you! Start fresh the next day with your regular eating and exercise. Enjoy your festivities, but more importantly, enjoy your family.
Elizabeth Carlson ’16
Admissions Marketing Intern