Dalia Blunt, MS, certified nutrition consultant and personal trainer
When we think of the holidays, we think about spending time with friends and family and all the delicious food that comes with the gatherings. With so many tasty temptations around us, it becomes very easy to overeat, making weight gain inevitable. However, it is possible to still enjoy your favorite dishes without sabotaging your diet. Follow these healthy tips to cut calories and keep your weight in check this Thanksgiving season.
Portion control One of the main reasons we tend to gain weight during the holidays is our tendency to have heaping portions of our favorite foods. When we consume more calories than we expend, the end result is weight gain. To avoid this, try consuming smaller portions of your favorite dishes and avoid the temptation to go back for seconds. Also try using a smaller plate, which can help control your portions.
Be mindful of liquid calories Along with all the decadent recipes, there will be plenty of calorie-filled beverages to choose from at your holiday meal. All these extra calories can lead to further weight gain if left unchecked. If you must have soda, cider or alcohol with your meal, try to limit yourself to one glass and be sure to drink plenty of water the rest of the day. Water has no calories, keeps you hydrated and helps fill you up.
Cut the calories Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or bringing a dish to share, try cutting the calories in your favorite recipes by choosing healthier ingredients. For example, try using coconut oil instead of butter, stevia instead of sugar for your baking and opt for lower fat versions of sour cream and cheese for dips and casseroles.
Focus on protein and fiber Thanksgiving meals tend to be high in processed carbs and fat and low in protein and fiber. Not only is protein more filling, it takes more work for your body to digest and metabolize compared to carbs and fat, so that you burn more calories in the process. Fiber also helps fill you up and stabilizes your blood sugar, which can help prevent weight gain during the holidays. Instead of filling up your plate with stuffing and mashed potatoes, try to focus more on lean protein such as turkey breast, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Stay active Lounging around after eating a big meal can help contribute to weight gain. To avoid this, try to stay active by taking a walk after your Thanksgiving dinner. Also, don’t wait until after the New Year to start exercising, be sure to participate in some type of physical activity on most days of the week, which will not only help control your weight, but also boost your energy and help manage stress during the holidays.