How Not to Overindulge During the Holidays
It’s the time of year so many people dread. Halloween candy is lingering in your face taunting you to just have “one more”. But just when you think it's all gone; BAM! Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Years. And the sugar/alcohol/food binge renews.
The holiday season is a three-month long junk food marathon, but Thanksgiving is the primary culprit. Why? The entire holiday is based around a huge meal! Sure, we visit with family and friends, but what do we do there? EAT! We eat like it’s our last day alive.
Here are some tips to avoid the temptation to overindulge this holiday season:
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Make it at least a gallon a day. It sounds like a lot if you’re not used to drinking water, but the benefits of keeping yourself hydrated are something you can really be thankful for. For a food-based holiday like Thanksgiving, drinking water is key, because it makes you feel full. If you feel more full, you’re less likely to have that extra helping of stuffing, or that third piece of pie. In addition to that, every time you drink a glass of water, you didn’t drink a glass of soda, or beer, or any other sugar and calorie-laden beverage
Sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health, and so before the mad holiday dash begins, make sure you’re getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night. Keep in mind, that most people need more. The holidays are stressful enough without denying your mind and body the time it needs to recover and rejuvenate. If you don’t sleep enough your body is going to start craving extra calories from sugar to help keep you awake. Add on three days of binging on sweets and carbs, and ten pounds could pile on super fast.
3. Change the Menu
Don’t be afraid to change your menu to make your holiday meals healthier. From introducing low-carb substitutes, to simply making less of certain dishes, there are plenty of menu-fixes that can help keep you trim this November. Too many people insist on making ridiculously unhealthy food because it’s tradition. Wherever you can, try to eliminate as many processed carbs and sugar as you can. Now, I’m not saying cut out all of the family favorites, but recipes can be tweaked, like using stevia instead of sugar in the apple pie, or fresh sweet potatoes instead of candied yams. Try topping those yams with pecans instead of marshmallow. There are so many ways to make recipes healthier check out PInterest for some great ideas or find a new recipe and create a new tradition.
4. Cauliflower Is Your Friend
Speaking of tweaking recipes, cauliflower is so good that it gets its own point. There are so many empty carbs in the Thanksgiving meal that you can replace with this vegetable, it’s amazing. Just to name a few:
Replace breadcrumbs. Grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater (or buy it pre-riced, many supermarkets now sell it this way) and bake it on a cookie sheet.
Pureé and use it to thicken gravy instead of cornstarch or flour.
Don’t mash potatoes. Boil cauliflower and mash that instead. Throw in some garlic and butter, or sour cream and chives, and it’ll taste so good, the substitution will go unnoticed.
5. Fill up on fresh Vegetables and Protein
Instead of eating all the sugary and fatty foods, try having a large portion of salad and vegetables with extra turkey or ham. The protein will fill you up without making you have that sugar crash afterwards.
6. Portion Control
It’s ingrained in us to go back for seconds on Thanksgiving, so make the portions smaller and serve yourself on a salad place or smaller plate size. Dinner plates are enormous, and if people fill those up knowing that they’re going back for more, there’s no way their bodies are going to be able to process all of that. Speaking of seconds, remember to have a full glass of water after your first plate. A good 16 ounces of water after your first helping, and maybe you’ll decide you don’t really need that second one. Not only that, but the Thanksgiving meal is heavy in sodium, so your body will be grateful for the extra water.
7. Don’t keep the leftovers.
Remember to have plenty of disposable containers or even ask your guests to bring their own tupperware. This way you can plan on sending all your guests home with leftovers, so you don’t have it around to eat every day. Or if someone offers for you to take some home, politely decline. You’re much less likely to eat that stuffing if it’s in someone else’s house.
8. Be Prepared & Have other non-food activities planned.
If you are a guest and not having to prepare the big meal bring what you need to stay on track! If you know others are going to be drinking wine, or cocktails, bring along some sparkling water for yourself so you can avoid the temptation to drink. Or, if you’re worried about the pre-meal spread, bring light and fresh (like sliced veggies and dip) something everyone can eat. There’s no rule saying you have to eat all day long. Try making it about other activities other than food! Remember there’s nothing like a walk after a big meal to clear your head and get you away from the dessert table. You can play with the kids, take the dog for a walk, socialize with friends, or anything; just get yourself out of the same room as the food.
Remember, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a three-month long chow-fest. The habits you set and the tricks you use can use this November 23rd can set you up for success in the coming months. Drink your water, get as much sleep as you can, and avoid the sugar and carbs. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about being with the people you love; don’t make it about food.