Stuff the Turkey, Not Yourself.

November 17th, 2011

Whether you’re ready for it or not, Thanksgiving is almost here! Time to trim that turkey, watch some football and enjoy the traditions that make your family’s Thanksgiving Day gathering special.  Of course, part of what we look forward to most about next Thursday is the delicious, rich, tempting and plentiful food!  Unfortunately, with that thought comes some anxiety for a lot of Americans as we think about the adverse affects that our indulgent feast could have on our waistlines (myself included!).

There’s no denying that healthier food options are on trend, both in supermarket aisles and on restaurant menus.  With smaller portion sizes and packages doing the “portion-control” work for us, a rise in reduced sodium claims, organic and natural positioning gaining popularity and a growing fruit and veggie revival in our midst, we have a lot of “better for you”  options available to us.  But let’s be realistic here, it’s Thanksgiving!  If gluttony has a holiday, this would be it (well maybe Fat Tuesday is a contender).  Even for those whose willpower serves them well most days of the week, a Thanksgiving spread can be kryptonite.  Of course, there are some lucky souls out there who can eat whatever they want and look like they’ve just walked out of a gym (life is unfair) but for the rest of us, there has to be a happy medium.  A place where we can feast to our heart’s content, eat to feel satisfied and not hate ourselves for it the next day – when even our most forgiving pair of jeans seem to be holding a grudge against us.

Ok, so you get the picture, now how can this year be different?  In asking myself the same question and doing a lot of digging, I’ve come across some tips and tricks that I’ll be keeping in mind next week.  Some of these are tried and true, some are common sense, and some are just wacky enough that I feel compelled to try them out of sheer curiosity (yeah, I’m talking about #5).

  1. If you’re not the host, you have a lot less say in what’s on the dinner table, so if you’re a guest, bring a dish that you know is healthy, delicious and guilt-less.
  2. Don’t skip breakfast!  Odds are if you try to “save your calories” for dinner, you’ll just end up over-indulging.
  3. Calories come in liquid form too, so watch the alcoholic and sugary beverages.  If you can, try to alternate between a cocktail and a healthier choice like water or club soda.
  4. Use a smaller plate; you’ll be more selective about what (and how much) you put on it when the real estate space is limited.
  5. Speaking of plates, you’re in luck if the plate is blue! Research shows that the color blue is an appetite suppressant. If the tableware won’t be blue, maybe you can pick your Thanksgiving Day outfit with that tidbit in mind.  Oh, and this same study says that the colors red, orange and yellow (Thanksgiving colors!) make you eat more.
  6. Be the last to serve yourself or to visit the buffet.  You won’t be rushed and you’ll have time to survey the food and think about what you really want and the best part: when everyone is done and going for seconds, you’ll still be on your first plate and less tempted to join the crowd.
  7. Some say that sweet smells help you eat less – after all the majority of the tasting experience comes from smell (think about how different food tastes when you’re sick with a stuffy nose).  If you can, reach for something sweet-smelling like an apple, banana, peppermint or vanilla (our personal favorite) and take a good whiff before diving into your meal.
  8. The 20-minute rule is your best friend!  It takes about 20 minutes from when you start eating for the signals to reach your brain and sync up with your stomach.  If you rush through a meal, your belly may be at capacity but your brain’s meter is still stuck on empty.  Eat slowly, enjoy the food, join in the conversation and let your body do the work that it was intended to do.
  9. This one is as simple as it sounds you just need to be aware of it: stop eating when you’re full!  Don’t overeat just because it’s there.
  10. Do something active before the meal – instead of just watching football on TV get the family together outside for a friendly game, weather-permitting.  Or plan a workout into your day to offset some of the added calories you’ll be taking in.
  11. Lastly, one of my personal favorites: walk off some more of that pumpkin pie at the mall the next day when you’re Black Friday shopping!

From the David Michael family to yours, we wish you a festive, safe and joyous Thanksgiving holiday.

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