I hate to be a downer about a wonderful holiday that started to give thanks for the harvest. I love Thanksgiving. To me, it is a day to be with family and closest friends and be appreciative for all that we have in our lives. However, for many of us, it has turned into a day where we eat until our pants burst and sit around watching football afterwards. (Or you’re doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. In my family this was determined by your gender, but not sure about other families. Wink wink.)
Some of my clients even have angst on the days leading up to that Thursday, and fear that all of their hard work and accomplishments will go to pot because of this one day of feasting. For you and my clients, I will share some strategies that have helped me over the years stay on my healthy path while truly enjoying the day.
#1: Know your math.
I’m usually not a fan of calorie counting per say, but on a day like this with so many temptations it is a helpful tool to use. An excess of 3500 calories will add one pound of fat to your body if it is not used for energy. The amount of calories in a typical Thanksgiving meal is close to a whole day’s worth of calories or more depending on your metabolic rate.
Here is a quick guide to a typical Thanksgiving meal:
2 glasses of sweetened tea, wine or cider: 300 calories
2oz. of cheese (or cheesy, creamy dips) : 200 calories
6 crackers: 100 calories
6 oz. white or dark turkey: 340 calories
1/3 cup of gravy: 100 calories
1/6 can of cranberry sauce: 100 calories
1/2 cup of stuffing: 180 calories
1/2 cup mashed potatoes: 150 calories
1/2 cup sauteed green beans: 50 calories
1 dinner roll w/ 1 pat of butter: 155 calories
1 cup of eggnog: 400 calories
1 piece of apple pie (1/8 of 9″ pie): 410 calories
1 piece of pumpkin pie: 200 calories
Total Thanksgiving dinner: 2585 calories
Tip #2: The morning burn.
Before you start cooking (or whatever you do), schedule time to get to the gym on Thursday morning. If you can’t get to a gym, go for a walk/jog/run outside or do an exercise video. No excuses. Wake up 40 minutes earlier if you have to to squeeze it in. This will fire up your metabolism for the rest of the day and you will burn more calories. A bonus would be to get everyone up after dinner and go for a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood. My dad used to do this when I was younger, and of course I thought he was odd, but now I can totally appreciate it. WALK first, the dishes can wait.
Tip #3: Plan your drinks wisely.
We all know by now that soda is just empty calories and loaded with sugar, so skip it and drink water instead. Egg nog alternatives like those made from soy (Silk nog), are delicious and less than half of the calories. If you drink juice or sweetened teas, dilute them with water and slash your calories in half. If you are drinking alcoholic beverages have a limit. Also, if you use spirits don’t use mixers that have sugar like fruit juices and soda. Use club soda, tonic and a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime to save on calories.
Tip #4: Put a Rainbow on Your Plate.
Include green vegetables like broccoli and salad, orange sweet potatoes, red tomatoes, yellow squash and purple eggplant and before you know it there won’t be too much room left for white foods like bread, pasta, white rice and white potatoes. These white foods have higher glycemic indexes and will spike your sugar faster setting you up for weight gain. Eating from the rainbow will ensure that you get a wide array of antioxidants, minerals and fiber.
Tip #5: Make your own desserts.
Store bought desserts are loaded with gross trans fats and high fructose syrup. Follow a recipe but cut the amount of sugar you use or better yet, substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for sugar in recipes. You never need as much as the recipes call for. Make an apple pie without the bottom crust or make a pumpkin pie that has half of the calories than an apple pie.
Lastly, be sure to breathe when you feel stressed, and enjoy one of the best holidays of the year!