It's almost here!
Thanksgiving is a special time to be appreciative of people, memories, and opportunities in our lives. Gratitude is central to the entrepreneur ethos, so I'll be sure to come back to it. But you know why I'm here.
This Stanford article states people gain an average of 1 pound per holiday season.
Let's be clear: You don't have to gain weight just because it's the holidays.
However, you don't care about gaining one pound. "It's the holidays!" But are you still holding onto the three you gained throughout the year, and the one from last holiday season? They add up to the sneaky weight gain mentioned on my homepage.
Maybe you'd rather spend time with family after dinner instead of passing out? Or not feel guilty for overeating as though you weren't going to eat leftovers in a couple hours?
While you consider your feasting traditions and choices, here are 8 tips for damage control on Thanksgiving:
1) Make half your plate vegetables
Sweet potatoes are better than basic potatoes (Opinion. You can leave a comment below, don't @ me). Factually, they have their tradeoffs- Sweet Potatoes vs. Potatoes: Which Are Healthier?
But instead of starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn, focus on beans, greens, carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc. Non-starchy vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but have fewer calories and carbs than potatoes.
2) Use olive oil instead of butter
Butter is delicious. It's also high in saturated fat, which increases blood cholesterol levels and increases risk of heart disease. Olive and vegetable oils have less saturated fat than butter and less trans fat than margarine. Using light tasting olive oil is an easy switch to put more heart healthy unsaturated fats in your recipes. They're still fat though, with 120 calories per tablespoon. Olive oil is good for dishes with melted oil, but be warned, it's not a good substitute for softened butter in baking recipes.
3) Put your fork down between bites
One surprising tip I've read is finish chewing and swallowing before putting more food in your mouth. It's harder than you think! This could be a fun or annoying conversation to start, depending on who you're eating with, so be sure to say it every Thanksgiving.
We all know those times we ate too much, too fast, and went from starving to overstuffed. Putting your fork down and taking time between bites lets you enjoy the conversation while giving your stomach time to signal when you've had enough to eat.
4) Don't pile your plate!
Remember: You don't have to hoard all the food on your first plate. You can go back.
Have you lived the expression "Eyes bigger than your belly," challenging yourself to eat a small mountain of food because you don't want to be wasteful on Thanksgiving?
Make your plate without stacking foods- gravy on potatoes, macaroni beside turkey. Bonus if you use a smaller plate to convince yourself that you're eating more.
5) Eat breakfast and healthy snacks
Remember when you were a kid and you wouldn't eat breakfast so you could eat more food at Thanksgiving dinner? (Oh, that was last year?)
Not being extra hungry at dinner time makes the rest of this list easier! Start your day with a typical breakfast, and think about eating fresh berries or an apple while you wait for the main event.
6) Taste, savor, and enjoy dessert
There is plenty of pie!
Your sense of taste works by microscopic molecules interacting with taste buds and olfactory receptors; you don't need several mouthfuls of cheesecake to get the full flavor. Seriously, don't scarf it- you won't taste it well, you'll eat more than you wanted, get a stomach ache, and you will have done it to yourself.
Focusing on your dessert lets you eat less and have a more fulfilling experience... I encourage you to fully immerse yourself in the dessert experience, for gratitude!
Cut a smaller piece of pie, imagining it's the most expensive, luxurious dessert you've had all month. Allow the conversation in the background fade away as you visualize the many efforts it took to get this slice to your plate. A tree, a bee, a farmer, a trucker, a stockperson, a cashier, a baker and/or family member who made it easy for you to get this. It's come a long way for this moment- say thank you!
Look at that magnificent slice! The textures, the combination of ingredients, how the filling sits on the crumbling, butter-soaked graham-cracker crust. Is there cinnamon? Nutmeg?
Watch how the dessert moves when you dig the side of your fork into it. It's like the commercials, but way better up close. Lift the fork to your mouth. Close your eyes. Enter the pie.
Feel the pie as your tongue presses it against the roof of your mouth. Breathe through your nose as you notice the flavors one by one. The sweetness. The salt. The nuances of fruits you've had before but never experienced quite like this. Notice the smile spreading across your lips and the uptick in mood as you eat a rewarding food.
If you're really into it, you can imagine your taste buds having the time of their lives at a concert, bouncing beach balls of food across the crowd. Eventually, return to the moment and recognize you just had an exquisite bite of a probably ordinary dessert.
If you're not into it, that's ok. I'm just giving you an idea so you might not eat so much pie.
Instead of having 1/8th size slices of each kind of pie, try smaller portions or fewer samples. You'll cut back on a ton of sugar and fat.
7) Be patient with yourself
This is probably the hardest part of building a healthy lifestyle. It's easy to start with the best of intentions and ideal choices in perfect situations, but don't despair if things don't go as planned. Healthy choices are about making better choices more often and enjoying life. It is the holidays.
8) Maintain Don't Gain Challenge
I'm not affiliated, but employees from my full-time worksite are signed up for the Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less annual challenge designed to prevent weight gain during the holidays. It's a free, simple sign up for 7 weeks of useful tips in your email.
- Weekly Newsletters
- Daily Tips
- Survive a holiday party
- Host a healthy Thanksgiving
- Manage holiday stress
- Weekly Challenges
- Healthy holiday recipes
- Prizes and weekly winners
- Support through social media
- Support group on MyFitnessPal.com
- A free virtual walking race through Rome creates some friendly competition and boosts motivation.
Those are my 8 wellness tips for a better Thanksgiving! I hope it's your best one yet.