That time of year is upon us again -- the time of indulgence, decadence, and revelry. Better known as the holidays - and more specifically this month, Thanksgiving. The turkey and trimmings can be a delight or disaster. Whether you enjoy the varied offerings of the holiday table or over-indulge in them depends entirely on you. So here's a few things you can do to keep this Thanksgiving's dinner from turning you into a turkey!
1. ) GRAZE, not devour
VSThere's always so much food on the holiday table, so enjoy it all, but do so with a minimalist approach. Try a bite of this and a bite of that, but don't pile it on. Especially if you'll have the spread out all day. If every time you walk by the table you limit yourself to one little sliver of turkey or ham instead of a plate full of slices, you'll feel much better the day after. Limit yourself to just one spoonful of sweet potato casserole each meal, rather than half the bowl. I know it's hard, trust me, but you can do it!!
2.) Go for the light
For almost everything you can concoct in the kitchen these days, somewhere out there in internet land, there's a lighter or less fat version of the recipe. Sometimes it's as simple as swapping out an ingredient or two. In place of oil in many baking recipes, you can substitute apple sauce as a great alternative. At Thanksgiving, an any other time of year, you can substitute canned pumpkin to make great, flavorful treats that are better for you.
Check out this great article from the Mayo Clinic on ingredient substitutions:
3.) Listen to your gauge
Just as a gas pump will shut off when your vehicle's gas tank is full -- you stomach will signal you when it's full. When you feel that full sensation--STOP eating! You're body will tell you when it's hungry again. It does this for a reason. If you learn to let your stomach control your eating and not your brain (I know this sounds a little strange, but go with me), you will see a big difference. Eating based on your body's triggers and not your emotions' triggers can hugely impact your body. Many people eat past the point of need because they simply want to. You always hate yourself after you stuff yourself so full you can barely move. And then you want to nap -- which is the worst thing you can do after over-indulging. So treat your emotional eating like a child. Tell it no. Listen to your body.
4. ) Go for a walk
The best thing you can do after a meal, especially after an over-indulgent one, is to move. Regardless of what you've heard about turkey and it's tryptophan-backed sleep-inducing -- it can only make you sleepy if you let it. Here's an instance where you SHOULDN'T listen to your body. After you're full (especially when you're stuffed) your brain (that pesky thing is always causing problems where food is concerned) sends signals to your body that it needs rest and digest all that food you just ate. The compound tryptophan in turkey aids in that signal by creating a sense of sleepiness. You can battle those urges by not sitting down. Get up, go for a walk, even if it's just around the block. That little bit of exercise will actually rev up your metabolism and help your body digest the food quicker. Plus, you just might burn off a few calories of that pumpkin pie, too. Some of you out there will rail against going for a walk after eating because it can cause heartburn or reflex to worsen. This is simply not true. Notice, I did not say that you should go to Crossfit right after eating. That wouldn't be good for anyone. You might have to taste that turkey twice--the bad way. True, strenuous activity right after eating can cause you problems, but a simple stroll down the driveway and around the neighborhood will do you nothing but good! If heartburn is giving your grief, it's not the walk that did you in -- it's the extra slice of pumpkin pie. Put down the fork, grab a couple of Tums, and do not repeat that mistake again. See # 3!!!
Even if after all your efforts, Turkey Day 2013 turns into an over-indulgent fete a' fete -- just remember: You haven't completely wrecked your new healthy lifestyle -- you've just had a setback.
Now, dust yourself off and get back on the treadmill and have a carrot stick. And remember Christmas is coming and you have another chance to resist the massive temptation all over again!
Here's some great recipes to lighten up your Thanksgiving table:
Again, our friends at the Mayo Clinic have some great suggestions:
One of my favorite recipes sites, Allrecipes.com has some great ones, too:
of course Food Network has your hook-up:
And one more: