Thanksgiving Day is almost upon us! This day is the “unofficial” start of the holiday season and is most noted for its traditional and favorite foods. Nearly 90 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day, as well as generous portions of our favorite side dishes. For some who have been nurturing more healthful eating habits, the traditional holiday dinner with family and friends can instill some worry about how to keep on top of the healthy habits we’ve been striving for all year long.
The good news is any foods, even beloved holiday dinner fare, can be worked into a healthful eating plan. After all, Thanksgiving Day is only one day out of the 365 days in the year and so first of all we can cut ourselves some slack and enjoy the day, the tasty food and the fellowship that a family meal provides.
However, there are some positive things we can do, with a little forethought and planning, that can help us come up with some strategies to keep us on track as we approach the festive day. Now is not the time to say, “don’t eat this” but rather change our mindset to positive things that we can do. Following are 10 small tips to consider as you approach the holiday meal:
1. Eat a light breakfast. It seems counter-productive to eat more food, when you know you are going to be eating a big meal later. But curbing your hunger pains can be very helpful in preventing overeating later on. A light breakfast that includes protein and fiber can help you be not so hungry when mealtime arrives.
2. Bank your calories. A small breakfast is a good idea, but if you know you’re going to be feasting later, plan to eat a smaller breakfast and evening meal. Smaller meals that are heavy on lean meat (leftover turkey), veggies (leftover relishes) and fiber (whole wheat roll) and light on fat, sugar and starch will help you feel more full, and even though you’re eating fewer calories, you’ll still feel satisfied.
3. Drink lots of water. Drinking water prior to a meal starts to fill you up before you take your first bite of food. Drink plenty of water with your meal as well.
4. Slow down, chew slowly and savor your food. This is a time to enjoy family and friends. Give yourself a chance to feel full and satisfied. It takes 20 minutes to start registering fullness.
5. Wear those jeans or pants that don’t have an elastic waistband or “relaxed fit.” Feeling uncomfortable in clothes that don’t conveniently expand can discourage overeating, silly as that may sound!
6. Eat your favorite foods. Of course we should enjoy our favorite foods. However, there may be foods that aren’t our favorites that we can easily forgo and not feel deprived. For example, can you forgo the rolls and butter? Do you need to eat stuffing and potatoes and sweet potatoes? Pick your favorites and enjoy them.
7. Strive for normal portion sizes. It’s easy to pile our plates high when there are so many foods to choose from. On the first go-around, opt for normal sized portions and don’t have your plate look like you’re building a tower.
8. Eat some fruits and vegetables. If there are fresh fruit salads or relish trays be sure to take some. These foods can help fill you up and are lower in calories and fat.
9. Be active after the meal. Getting active will help you burn some of those extra calories. We will not be able to burn off all those calories with a leisurely walk or playing with the kids, but it will help AND it will keep us away from the snack bowls and treats that are bound to be around for the post-meal football games on the television.
10. Focus on family and friends. That’s what parties during the holidays are about. Count your blessings and the things that you are grateful for.
May you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.