Cope with Thanksgiving without Gobbling Up Too Many Calories
- Before you start filling up your plate, survey everything that's being served. Think of the foods that you really want and have small portions of those, instead of piling your plate high with everything.
- Fill up half of your plate with vegetables before you take any other food. This will leave less room for the higher-calorie foods like mashed potatoes and stuffing.
- If you're a guest at someone's house, bring a dish that you know is a better option for you (and for others who are watching their weight). The host will be just as appreciative of roasted vegetables or a fruit salad as he/she would be with another variety of stuffing to add to the table.
- Do not skip breakfast that morning. Have a balanced breakfast that contains protein and carbohydrates, this way you're not starving when you sit down for the Thanksgiving feast and tempted by everything being offered. Some suggestions are 1 cup of low-fat plain Greek yogurt with cut up fruit, a tablespoon of chopped nuts, and a drizzle of honey; 2 eggs with a slice of wheat toast (can top with 1 teaspoon of butter) and a piece of fruit; 2 slices of whole wheat toast with 1/2 Tablespoon of peanut butter spread on each, topped with sliced banana.
- Try to exercise Thanksgiving morning. Mentally, it will empower you to make healthier choices for the rest of the day. Physically, it will put some calories into your "calorie bank" so you don't have to stress about indulging a little bit later on in the day. It doesn't have to be your usual hour-long gym session; instead, just try to squeeze in a 20 minute walk to get your day started off on the right foot.
- Limit your alcohol intake. It's high in calories, and drinking more of it might lead to eating more of the foods you were trying to limit for the day. For every alcoholic beverage you have, alternate with a glass of water in between. Squeeze in some lemon, lime, or orange for some added flavor in the water.
- It might be difficult to get up and leave the table when you're done eating. If you can't, place your napkin over your plate, or push your plate away so you're not tempted to keep eating when you're full.
- People love sending guests home with leftovers. If you can't decline the offer, guide the host or hostess as to what you'd like to take home. Say, "I really loved the turkey, sweet potatoes, and broccoli! I would really appreciate it if you can pack those to send home with me."
- If you're sent home with lots of high-calorie foods such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables in a creamy sauce or cheese sauce, and desserts, think about your weight loss/maintenance goals. If you think they're just going to be too tempting, throw them out or offer them to a neighbor. If you can have appropriate portions of them, keep them for a day or two, then get rid of them.
- Don't strive to be perfect. Remember that goals - small ones and large ones - need to be realistic. Don't try to convince yourself that you're only going to eat a small portion of turkey, some salad, and will completely skip dessert. Recognize that some special - and probably very tasty - foods are being served today. Enjoy a few things, in small portions, and savor every bite. Take pride in knowing that you were able to indulge without going overboard.
Karen E. Gibbs, MD
Director of Bariatric Surgery and Associate Chairman, Department of Surgery
Erika Renick, RD
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