Monday, November 28, 2011

The Light Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving break was, to say the least, incredible.  The food was out of this world, as usual, and completely home cooked by my grandmother.  I'm guessing many of you had similar situations at your own homes, complete with delicious turkey and yummy stuffing and mashed potatoes to go along with it all.  And how could I forget the cranberry sauce?  And the pumpkin pie?  Yes, the delicious food was plentiful, as it should be on Thanksgiving day.

And I'm guessing some of you may feel pretty guilty after Thanksgiving, having gorged yourself as is custom on that holiday.  Maybe the diet went out the window, but got thrown a little too far.  Maybe a lot of you are upset you ate too much, and feel like you can't control yourself on days like these, where the whole family sits down and chows down.  How can one avoid overeating on such an important, enormous, delicious meal?  With Christmas right around the corner, and more fantastic holiday dinners, I think a few tips about controlling appetite are in order.  Fear not, eating in moderation is quite easy, even on the holidays!

First of all, don't stress about one night of rather large eating.  It happens to the best of us, and if you can hop right back on your diet the day afterwards, you'll be absolutely fine and see no difference in your results.  Sometimes it's just better to wake up the next day and forget it even happened.  A week from now that meal won't have even mattered.  Enjoy special dinners like Thanksgiving, don't be afraid of them.  

That being said, if you'd still like to make sure you don't go on an all out binge, here are a few tips that I PERSONALLY followed on Thanksgiving day in an attempt to enjoy the food, but in a healthy moderation:

Eat a light (but filling) breakfast and lunch:  Choose foods that have high nutrient content, but are relatively low calorie.  For breakfast I had a bowl of total cereal and a large pear, both foods that are extremely filling but very low calorie when they're not overdone.  For lunch, I had 8 shrimp (about 80 calories), raw broccoli and carrots, and some plain packaged salmon.  All in all it was less than a 500 calorie meal, but very filling.  

Keep snacking light to stay full:  I had several snacks throughout the day, including a few clementines (between 20-40 calories a piece) and another package of salmon (90 calories).  I also had some raw snap peas every now and then, as well as a few roasted chickpeas.  It's all about subduing your appetite without adding on too many calories.  DON'T STARVE YOURSELF TO SAVE CALORIES.  You'll only be hungrier by the time dinner comes around, and will almost certainly end up eating more.  

Drink LOTS of water:  I had at least a full glass of water with every meal and snack, which helped to keep me full.  But the real power of water comes in right before Thanksgiving dinner itself.  If you want to take a LOT of the hungry edge off, have 1-3 full glasses of water right before your dinner.  I had three, and my normally ravenous appetite was completely tamed. Because of this it was quite easy to enjoy the food in smaller quantities.  

Moderation at the table:  Like I've said before, enjoy IN MODERATION.  You can have a little bit of everything, but if you want to keep the calories low, don't take too much.  Take just a mouthful or two of things like stuffing and mashed potatoes, and if you want to load up on something make it the delicious steamed veggies.  Choose the whitest turkey meat you can find, and use just a dab of cranberry sauce.  If there are sweet potatoes served, choose those over mashed white potatoes.  Oh, and definitely try to avoid most of the sauces, like mounds of gravy and butter.  Those will just add a whole bunch of empty calories.
It's very possible to have a full plate without going crazy on the calories.  

Dessert:  This one's up to you.  I didn't have dessert, but I usually don't, so I'm very used to skipping it.  If you really want to taste that pumpkin or pecan pie, take half of a normal slice, and only go for the other half if you feel you REALLY need it.  Eat slowly, enjoy the rich flavor, don't hork it and go for more.  Make it a challenge to see how much you can enjoy a moderate portion of food.  If you finish it, distract yourself.  Talk with your family for a few minutes, have a sip of water, just wait.  I bet in a few minutes you won't even want more.  

There you have it, tips for Thanksgiving that can be applied to most any big holiday dinner.  Again, I can't stress enough that it's easy to enjoy such a delicious dinner WITHOUT going overboard.  Try it out, you'll be very proud of yourself if you can end up succeeding (and I know you can, these things aren't rocket science.)  

Happy Holidays, Keep those dinners rolling, and as always, good luck!

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