Monday, November 14, 2011

It’s Thanksgiving – Be Full of Thanks Not Food & Frenzy

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s the time of year when we all seem to be filled with stress, to-do lists, anxiety, the turkey dinner, and other holiday foods.  Thanksgiving is the beginning of a two-month period where most of us put the festivities ahead of our health.  The holidays can be a very hard time to stay healthy and maintain your weight, much less lose weight.  Several studies have shown that the average American gains anywhere from three to 12 pounds during the period from Thanksgiving to New Years.  So, I encourage everyone to kick-off this season by being full of thanks this Thanksgiving and taking the focus off of the food and frenzy.  Here is my plan to tackle Turkey Day and get a healthful head start to the holidays:
·         Eat Breakfast – On Thanksgiving morning, wake up and eat a healthy and hearty breakfast.  Go for a mix of protein and carbs like peanut butter on toast with an apple or pear; an egg with a slice of cheese on a whole wheat English muffin with a bowl of raspberries or blueberries; or a bowl of oatmeal made with skim milk and a banana.
·         Water – drink lots of water throughout the day.  About 30 minutes before you are scheduled to eat, drink a glass of water.  Avoid sodas, teas, and any pre-made drinks.  These are loaded with sugar.  If you drink any alcohol, stick to wine.  If you have more than a few alcoholic drinks, alternate a glass of water between each drink. 
·         Appetizers/Snacks – Avoid the urge to eat mindlessly.  If trays of food are put in front of you, don’t grab for things just because they are there.  Avoid creamy dips with buttery crackers.  Stick with veggie platters or baked tortillas or pita chips with salsa or hummus.  A handful of nuts are better than greasy chips or crackers.  Also, wait as long as possible before you give into the first bite of the appetizer.  Once you start, it’s hard to stop.  So, chew a piece of gum or pop a mint to keep your mouth fresh. 
·         Turkey – Turkey is a better choice than ham.  Dark meat turkey does have more fat than white meat, but it also contains more iron and zinc than white meat.  Plus, it has more flavor and doesn’t dry out as easily, so you may need to pour on less gravy.  Or, better yet, pick cranberry sauce which is a healthier condiment than gravy.  Whether you pick white or dark, you should always remove the skin because that is where the truly unhealthy fats are found.  
·        Sides – Make your plate as colorful as possible.  Try to limit mashed potatoes and gravy and go for sweet potatoes.  For my meal, I add a bit of real maple syrup to mashed potatoes and I replace marshmallows with a walnut topping.  Green vegetables can be good, although at this time of year, they can be loaded with cream and fat in a casserole.  Instead of creamy green beans topped with fried onions, I toss my green beans with olive oil and sliced almonds.  Avoid creamy-looking casseroles and dishes with “crumble” toppings.  These are typically just greasy crackers with added butter. 
·         Bread – Avoid adding rolls or muffins to your plate.  You will get plenty of starch from everything else on the menu like potatoes and stuffing.  If you must have bread, go for just one piece and don’t add butter. 
·         Dessert – Stick to pumpkin or sweet potato pies.  Both of these are healthier than pecan or apple.  Avoid any pies with a double crust.   Crust is very fattening because the main ingredient is shortening, butter, or lard.  If you must have two slices of pie, eat only the filling, don’t eat the end crust.  You’ll save calories and still get the best part.  Also, try to avoid adding whipped cream or ice cream and just enjoy the taste of the dessert.  Eat it slowly and enjoy it. 
·         Stick to your Faves – Don’t put something on your plate if you aren’t that excited about eating it.  Save the calories for something you’ll enjoy.  Furthermore, if you put something on your plate thinking you will like it but don’t, you do NOT have to eat it just because it’s on your plate.  Even if old Aunt Mable thinks you should eat more, just smile and tell the old lady how wonderful everything was. 
·        Seconds – Don’t immediately go back for seconds.  It takes 20 minutes for our brains to register that our stomachs are full.  So, if you hoover through two plates of food, you will likely have overeaten which will lead to feeling severely uncomfortable for the rest of the day.   
·         Get Moving – While watching the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game, don’t sit for any period longer than an hour.  Get up during a commercial break and walk around.  After you eat, take a walk around the block, or take your kids out for a game of football or tag.  Or, impress your family and take out the trash, walk the dog, help clean up the dishes, or start putting up Christmas lights and decorations! 

If you want more tips, ideas, or recipes for the holidays, contact me today.  I will help you and your family fill up on thanks rather than the food and frenzy of the season.  Go to to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  Let’s be thankful that obesity is 100% preventable and make a change today! 

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