Leave Being Plump to the Turkey (and Santa, of course!)
Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is on its heels. It’s a time of celebration, family, friends, and food. Lots and lots of food! The smells of roast turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie mingle with the sounds of laughter and the beautiful sights of delightfully decorated tables. This is my favorite time of year.
The feasting begins on Thanksgiving and continues straight through to New Year’s Day! All this feasting makes it much too easy to put on a little extra padding. This is something I have struggled with in the past, and I suspect you are familiar with the struggle as well. After all, most Americans gain weight over the holidays. While the “average” weight gain is theoretically only a pound, many people expand an entire clothing size and add 5-10 pounds during the last 2 months of the year.
I know that added pounds on my waist take too much effort to remove in the new year. Fortunately, I have developed some practices that help me enjoy the holidays without having to struggle into my clothes until I work those extra pounds off!
I’m sharing my holiday healthy eating tips with you to help you and your loved ones avoid the consequences of the glutinous holiday celebrations—without feeling left out of all the fun and goodies!
- Eat protein at every meal and snack. Protein will keep you full longer and help you avoid grazing at the dessert buffet throughout the day.
- Eat off a small plate or purposely leave some white space on your larger plate.
- Savor the flavor of every bite by putting your fork down and chewing your food. Really think about the texture and flavor of the delicious food before you. Thanksgiving dinner is the best meal of the year and I want you to enjoy every bite. Don’t leave the table hungry, but don’t over stuff either. You want to be comfortably full. Save a little room for those delectable leftovers later in the day.
- Switch your iodized salt with Celtic Sea Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt. This is particularly important for anyone with salt sensitive hypertension. Just switching to one of these salts reduces sodium intake by about 10%. This simple, and tasty switch, may be enough to lower high blood pressure. Don’t be afraid to salt your food. Only about 1/3 of the population is salt sensitive. Another 1/3 is hurt by a diet very low in sodium. The remaining 1/3 is not hurt by a low or high sodium diet.
- Take it easy on the alcohol. Drinking, especially on an empty stomach, reduces our self-control and can lead to over eating. Enjoy your glass of wine with your meal rather than drinking a glass or two before the meal.
- Try to eat a whole foods diet by avoiding the canned or processed foods. When you make your mashed potatoes, use fresh potatoes. If you have rice, make basmati or brown rice. Cook the rice in in chicken or turkey stock rather than plain water for extra nutrition and flavor. Instead of green bean casserole, toss fresh green beans and sliced garlic with rice bran oil or extra virgin olive oil and sea salt and slow roast in the oven.
- Don’t skip dessert. That’s right. You heard me. This is a celebration and you can eat pie! One or two pieces of pie will not add a pound of weight to your backside. But, you can make your desserts healthier by reducing the sugar in them. You can reduce the amount of sugar called for in a recipe by a third, or even a half, without changing the flavor of the finished product. Another sweet option is to replace white sugar with raw honey. If you use honey, reduce the amount called for by half. If a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, use a half cup of honey. You’ll have a healthier dessert and no one will know the difference. Using ingredients that are less processed is always a good goal. One way to do that when you make pumpkin pie is to use real cream, preferably raw, instead of canned evaporated milk.
- Lastly, don’t let food be the only focus during the holidays. Make plans now for non-food activities such as card games, dominoes, a theater production, or daily walks with the family. One our favorite games to play during the holidays is Rumi cube. We’ve often had three tables going simultaneously for days! It’s a great way to keep everyone engaged in friendly competition.
Above all, find something to be grateful for each, and every day.
To your health!