Thanksgiving is here again, kicking off the holiday season. And ‘tis the beginning of many festive events, most with food being front and center. This can cause a certain amount of trepidation about overeating and weight gain, putting at least a small damper on spirits. After all, about half of all weight gained annually occurs during the winter holidays.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Thanksgiving is actually an opportunity to provide ourselves with plenty of good nutrition derived from this wonderful feast. Think of the types of foods we eat at this celebratory dinner. Turkey headlines as the star of the show. It is high in protein and numerous vitamins and minerals, but low in fat and calories. Next think fruits and veggies, the most nutritious foods of all! Even dessert is a nutritional diva. Pumpkin pie is loaded with vitamin A (along with the sweet potatoes you had with your turkey!).
Our Thanksgiving fare can be both enjoyable and nutritious without packing in lots of calories. If we follow the tips below, we can take away all regret and totally enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner:
- To prevent overeating, don’t let yourself become overly hungry prior to Thanksgiving dinner.
- Eat slowly and mindfully. You will enjoy your food more and will be able to sense when you are full (it takes 20 minutes for your tummy to tell your brain that you are full). Enjoying good conversation will help you to eat more slowly; just be sure to pay attention to your hunger/satiety (fullness) signals.
- If preparing the food, be careful about adding extra fat, sugar and calories (e.g. roast rather than fry, steam veggies, etc.)
- Don’t add extra calories at the table (e.g. butter, sour cream, etc.)
- Take small portions; you can always get more if you are still hungry. This helps prevent overeating by those of us belonging to the “clean your plate club”. (Remember the old admonishment “eat all the food on your plate; people in the world are starving!” To this day I don’t understand how ME eating all the food on my plate was helping THEM!)
- Drink wisely. It’s all too easy to take in extra calories from beverages, either alcoholic or those spiked with loads of sugar.
- Be a “skin”-flint; remove the skin from your portion of turkey, as that’s where a lot of the fat and calories lie.
- Make that portion of turkey about the size of the palm of your hand (3 ounces) so that it is a USDA MyPlate-recommended serving.
- Take a hike! Don’t go from the table to the easy chair. Take a walk around the block looking at the neighbors’ Christmas lights or walk around the mall and window-shop for Christmas gift ideas.
Happy Thanksgiving from David Rath Nutrition!