The most anticipated feast of the year is upon us. Americans put on an average of 1 to 2 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, which they fail to lose post holiday— causing steady gain over the years.
Celebrate with family and friends, and avoid holiday weight gain with these simple tips:
1.) Pitch in
Even if you are not hosting this year, call whoever is and offer to bring something. This guarantees there is a dish that is prepared healthily and fits into your diet. If the host tells you a dish is not neccesary, a simple "I'd love to participate. What are you planning on serving?" will help. Knowing in advance what will be offered gives you the opportunity to think about the food choices you will make so that you are better prepared to stick to your healthy diet.
2.) Eat breakfast
Start Thanksgiving morning as you would any other day. Skipping breakfast to save calories is often counter-productive. Eat a balanced breakfast that contains both fiber and protein, such as an egg white omelette filled with veggies or Greek yogurt and a high fiber cereal with berries. The combination of fiber and protein is filling and provides sustained energy so you don't arrive to the Thanksgiving table starved.
3.) Practice portion control
Be mindful of both what you choose to eat and the amount you consume. Visualize your plate as having three sections: fan out lean protein in one-third (we recommend 6 oz. of protein for males and 4 oz. for females), fill one-third with non-starchy vegetables and the remaining one-third with starchy foods like casserole and stuffing. Eat slowly and do not go for seconds or thirds. After your meal, redirect your attention to great conversation and spending time with loved ones.
4.) Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to ensure you stay hydrated. The symptoms of dehydration can be confused with hunger, which could cost you extra calories. Sipping water prior to the meal, during and after not only keeps you hydrated it also helps with digestion.
5.) Push restart, not rewind
The Thanksgiving meal is known for indulgences, but remember that this is just one meal. One festive splurge doesn't have to wind up on your hips. If you go overboard on Thanksgiving Day, wake up the next morning excited to get back to your usual routine of healthy eating. Sticking to regular meal times, incorporating lean protein and fiber with every meal and focusing on foods that are filling yet low in calories ensures Thanksgiving remains just one day, not a week.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.