Thanksgiving is about being thankful, not about exploding.
Before you dig into that third piece of pie, remember that the turkey should be stuffed, not you.
There will be a cornucopia of tempting, high-calorie side dishes spread before you. You don’t have to eat them all. You need a strategy for reasonable indulgence — a strategy that you can use repeatedly this holiday season.
Dr. Felicia Stoler, a New Jersey mother of three and author of “Living Skinny in Fat Genes,” suggests this game plan:
- Get a full night’s sleep the night before. Thanksgiving Day will likely be stressful, and a lack of sleep will take its toll.
- Eat breakfast. Don’t save up for the big meal. Eating right away in the morning will help get your metabolism moving, and prevent you from overeating later in the day.
- Work out. This is another metabolism booster. It is easier to have the motivation to exercise right when you wake up, rather than after a heavy meal that makes you sleepy. Don’t have time to hit the gym? Don’t worry, household chores and cleaning count!
- Drink water throughout the day.
- Put on your normal jeans, not those baggy sweats that are a size too large.
- Season dishes with fresh herbs if possible. Try making some dishes with a little kick. Spicy foods are harder to eat in excess.
- Wait at least a half-hour between dinner and dessert. Your brain will have time to get the message to your stomach that you are full, and you won’t eat as much dessert (or any).
- Take a post-dinner walk. If you are still awake and able to move, an after-dinner walk is a great way to speed up digestion.
- Buy a turkey that is 100 percent bird, preferably an organic pasture-raised bird from a local farmer. Most store-bought frozen turkeys have been injected with a solution containing sugar, salt and artificial flavorings.
- If you fry your bird, use an oil with a high smoke point. (Trust us, it’s better for you.)
- That familiar stuffing in the red box contains partially hydrogenated oils. Instead, make your own stuffing. Have your little ones help by tearing up day-old bread the night before.
- Pass up the canned crescent rolls: Refrigerated dough products, including crescent rolls, often contain partially hydrogenated oils.
- Avoid the gravy packets. Prepare your own gravy by whisking a few tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into the turkey drippings.
Atlanta nutritionist and author Dr. Keith Kantor also adds these suggestions:
- Load your plate with protein (turkey, ham, roast, etc.) and non-starchy vegetables like green beans, greens, carrots and broccoli. Leave only a quarter of your plate for the starchy vegetables like potatoes.
- Share dessert or get small portions of what is offered. Taste, don’t binge.
- Go for the low-sugar cocktails and alternate them with a glass of water, if possible. Wine and light beer are lower in calories than margaritas.
- Give away your leftovers.