I have heard it many times... "It's the holiday season so I'm going to eat what I want." Just because it’s a time to celebrate, doesn’t mean you have to fall off the wagon. Here are some easy tips to healthier meals and a healthier you.
Maintain don't gain. First things first, you have to shift from a mindset of weight loss to weight maintenance. The end of the year can be a very hectic time and it is important to be realistic about your weight. Instead of stressing yourself out more by trying to lose weight, make an active effort to maintain your current weight. It’s important to exercise on a regular basis especially on the morning of Thanksgiving to create a calorie deficit. Save that weight loss plan for your New Year's resolution.
Don't skip meals. On Thanksgiving, it’s common for people to skip breakfast so that they eat copious amounts of food during dinner. This is one way to really pack on the pounds. When you deprive yourself of food for the entire day you are bound to binge eat. My recommendation is that you eat breakfast even if it's a piece of fruit or a scrambled egg.
Have portion control. Just because Thanksgiving occurs once a year does not mean that you need to eat a years worth of calories. On average a typical Thanksgiving meal is 3,000-3,500 calories. Use smaller plates, which will force you to take smaller portions. Eat slowly. It takes an average of 20 minutes for your brain to catch up with your stomach to determine if you're full. This can help decrease the likelihood that you will go for a second and possibly third servings. Send people home with leftovers. If you’re like me, and the food is in your fridge, you’re going to eat it. Of course, it is completely fine to save a little for yourself to enjoy the next day.
Trim the calories during meal prep. Substitute healthier options into meals. Examples include low sodium chicken broth, fresh green beans and mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. Stick with white meat. Also, toss out the turkey skin, which is loaded with saturated fats. Avoid boxed and canned foods when possible, they contain large amounts of hidden ingredients, including sodium.
Limit the number of desserts you have on your table. For those desserts you do have, try to cut the amount of sugar in half when baking.
Think before you drink. Alcohol contains empty calories. It is best to limit or avoid alcohol consumption during the holidays. The calories can add up quickly and cause you to eat more.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink water throughout the day (and on non-festive days) to maintain hydration. This will decrease hunger pangs and also prevent you from overeating.
For more health tips or to learn more about Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, please visit TMH.org.
By: Jillian Weissman, MD, Tallahassee Memorial Family Medicine Residency